BOMBAY (January 11 2005): India's summer oilseeds crop is expected tobounce back and match a year earlier's output, after erratic rains causeda drop in the winter harvest, traders said on Monday. India, which imports40 percent of its annual needs of 11 million tonnes of edible oil, is theworld's fourth-largest vegetable oil producer with an annual turnover ofabout $15 billion.
"The rapeseed and mustard crops are developing very well and we may getone of the biggest crop in recent years," Sandeep Bajoria, president ofthe Central Organisation for Oil Industry and Trade told Reuters.
Traders said output of rapeseed and mustard, which accounts for two-thirdsof the summer oilseeds production, is likely to reach 7 million tonnesthis year from 6.77 million a year ago.
But the area under sunflower and groundnut cultivation has fallen from theprevious summer and that could result in a lower output, traders said.
"Overall, we may get almost the same production level as we achieved inthe previous summer season," said Govindlal G. Patel, an edible oiltrader, based in the western state of Gujarat.
Summer harvests begin in some parts from February and pick up in March,traders said.
India, the world's largest edible oil importer, produced about 10 milliontonnes of oilseeds in the last summer season.
The winter oilseeds output, sown in June and July and harvested in Octoberand November, fell 5.8 percent from a year earlier to 13.1 million tonnes.
Poor rains during the June-September monsoon season usually affect bothwinter and summer crops. The rainfall in 2004 was 13 percent lower thannormal, but rains in September and October gave good soil moisture forsummer sowings.
A 20 percent rise in prices of rapeseed and mustard last year promptedfarmers to expand their crop, traders said.
The land under rapeseed and mustard crops, sown in October and November2004, rose to 6.6 million hectares from 5.86 million in the previous year,government data showed.
But the area under sunflower fell to 1.17 million hectares from 1.25million, while the land under groundnut dropped to 467,000 hectares from507,000 hectares, it said.
India, which has 1,500 oil mills, 600 solvent extraction units and 500refining units, imports palm oils from Malaysia and Indonesia, and soyoilfrom Argentina and Brazil.