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Thursday, Jan 09, 2003

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Oilmeal shipments plunge 33 per cent

Our Bureau

MUMBAI, Jan. 8

OILMEALS, which until recently used to be one of the fastest growing commodities in the agri-export basket, have taken a deep plunge this year with a fall of 33 per cent in export shipment.

December is traditionally the month when oilmeal export shipments record a big number; but this year it is different. According to export data compiled by the Solvent Extractors' Association of India, extractions export totalled a mere 2.7 lakh tonnes (lt) in December 2002, down 50 per cent from 5.5 lt recorded in December 2001.

In the first nine months of the current fiscal, oilmeal exports totalled 11.3 lt, down a third from the same period previous year (16.9 lt).

Soyabean extraction has suffered the most with export of 7.6 lt during April-December 2002, down by a whopping 44 per cent from same period previous year (13.6 lt). Other extractions have not fared well either, although rapeseed meal showed an expansion in the first nine months to 2.9 lt (2.1 lt).

Groundnut extractions (15,225 tonnes) continued to languish, while castor meal (57,970 tonnes) used as organic manure showed a slowdown in export shipment.

Apart from lower availability of oilseeds for crushing following drought conditions that hit kharif harvest, domestic demand for animal feed is on the rise. It is feared that increasingly, oilmeal exports would become uncompetitive unless oilseed yields are raised and cost per unit is reduced.

However, the industry has no clue how to address the issue of low productivity. It has merely been demanding oilseed imports at concessional duty and liberal plant quarantine procedure.

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