PUTRAJAYA, Aug 26 (Bernama) -- India will continue to be a major importerof palm oil with imports expected to hover around four to five milliontonnes from the world market, said Ajay Tandon, the vice president ofIndia's Central Organization for Oil Industry and Trade.
Although the Indian government is slowly shifting towards cultivating itsown oil palm as a plantation crop, this is unlikely to happen until thenext two to three years, he said.
India will continue to favour palm products given the huge demand for itand the price advantages offered by its traditional palm oil suppliers.
Malaysia is one of India's traditional suppliers of palm oil.
Ajay said a total of 850,000 hectares for oil palm cultivation has beenidentified by the Indian government as one of the ways to reducedependence on imports.
However, with India expected to show a moderate gain in per capita oilconsumption after a decline in 2002-2003, there may just not be enough tomeet the growth in demand, he said.
"Under normal circumstances, India's Vegetable Oil consumption is likelyto show a growth of three to four percent and this would translate into anadditional requirement of 0.3 to 0.4 million tonnes per annum.
"We will continue to import huge quantity of vegetable oils in the mediumterm," he added.
Global vegetable oil consumption is expected to gain 4.5 percent led bygains in China and India.
Looking ahead, considering the size of Indian market, he said it would bea good idea for suppliers to invest in joint ventures as to show theirlong term committment to the market.