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Oil body forecasts lower kharif 2006-07 oilseed output

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It's due to a drop in acreages, says COOIT

Our Bureau

Chennai, Nov. 5

The Central Organisation for Oil Industry and Trade (COOIT) has estimated the oilseed production for the `kharif' 2006-07 at 128.4 lakh tonnes, which is about 9 lt lower than that of last kharif's 137 lt .

Announcing the forecast for the season at the All India Convention of Oilseeds and Oil Trade and Industry, Mr B.V. Mehta, Executive Director, Solvent Extractors' Association of India, who chaired the session on COOIT's crop estimation, said that the drop in production was due to a drop in acreages.

Groundnut

He said the drop in acreages and production has been mostly in the case of groundnut.

Groundnut acreage is estimated at about 47.46 lakh hectares for the season, a drop of nine lakh hectares against last kharif's 56.47 lakh hectares.

The forecasts indicate an eight-lakh-tonne drop in groundnut (in shell) production for kharif 2006-07.

Mr Mehta said that the dry spell in the major production belt in Andhra Pradesh, particularly Rayalaseema, hit sowing and production is down by about 53 per cent at 6.1 lt (11.5 lt).

In Gujarat, where the drop is due to farmers shifting to cotton, production is down to 16 lt (17 lt).

Castorseed is down by 2.1 lt, sunflower seed down by 20,000 tonnes.

Soyabean

The forecasts have been optimistic on soyabean, which is expected to be up by about 2 lt .

This is attributed to an increase of about 3 lakh hectares in cultivation.

The area under soyabean for the season is 81.18 lakh hectares (78.01 lakh hectares). No change is projected in the production of sesame seed, which is expected to be about 3.2 lt.

COOIT has also forecast increases in production of cottonseed and nigerseed for 2006-07.

Cottonseed production is pegged at 89.9 lt (84.9 lt) and no changes are expected in niger seed, which is set at one lakh tonnes. Copra production is estimated at 6.2 lt (four lakh tonnes) with equivalent coconut oil production at four lakh tonnes (4.2 lt).

Imports

On the implication of these numbers, Mr Mehta said that this would mean an increase in imports depending on the rabi season production (harvest in February/March 2007).

Also a `silver lining' is that the NAFED is holding on to about 20 lt of stocks.

But in his opinion, he said imports of vegetable oil could touch about six million against 5.3 million tonnes last year and edible oil imports would go up to 5 mt from 4.3 mt.

Mr Sandeep Bajoria, Past President, COOIT, said that the increase in cottonseed production might largely be attributed to the farmers taking to genetically modified cotton. GM cotton areas are continuously increasing and the trend may be expected to hold.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 6, 2006)
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