Agri Business

After a decade-and-half, farmers in Tamil Nadu set to plant soyabean again

Subramani Ra Mancombu Chennai | Updated on June 09, 2021

Poultry industry takes the initiative to cultivate the oilseed crop on 300 acres this year

After a gap of over a decade-and-a-half, farmers in Tamil Nadu are likely to take up soyabean cultivation from this year.

Like farmers in other parts of the country, Tamil Nadu growers have been buoyed by current high prices for soyabean. Tamil Nadu’s Broiler Coordination Committee (BCC) is taking the initiative to reintroduce soyabean in the State.

“We are likely to buy soyabean seeds and help farmers to grow soyabean. We will also help them by providing the prices that prevail in the market,” said Vangili Subramaniam, President, Tamil Nadu Poultry Farmers’ Marketing Society.

Subramaniam, who is a BCC member, said that by getting Tamil Nadu farmers to grow more soyabean, they could get some crushing units too in the region.

This could help them to source soyameal, a crucial poultry feed input, directly than getting it from Madhya Pradesh or Maharashtra.

“We will, at least, be able to save on transportation cost after soyameal prices doubled this year,” said Subramaniam.

Higher prices

According to the Solvent Extractors Association, soyameal is currently ruling at ₹61,800 a tonne compared with ₹30,981 during the same period a year ago.

This is since soyabean prices have ruled far higher than the minimum support price (MSP) of ₹3,880 a quintal for a major part of the current edible oil season (October 2020-September 2021).

According to NCDEX data, spot soyabean prices at Indore were quoted at ₹7,482 on Tuesday. June futures on NCDEX on Wednesday ruled at ₹7,264 a quintal. On the Chicago Board of Trade, soyabean were quoted at 1572.75 cents a bushel (₹31,220 a tonne).

Soyabean prices in India tend to rule in line with the prices of imported soyabean oil. Currently, the landed price of degummed or crude soyabean oil is $1,337 (₹95,575) a tonne, up some 83 per cent compared with the year-ago period.

In the domestic market, refined soyabean oil is ruling at ₹144 a kg compared with ₹83 a year ago.

“Soyabean will be grown on 200-300 acres this year in areas such as Namakkal, Perambalur and Palladam,” Subramaniam, also managing partner of the Namakkal-based Vangili Feeds, said.

The farmers could shift from either maize or groundnut or paddy to soyabean, he said.

“This year, farmers in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat besides Karnataka are showing keen interest to cultivate soyabean,” said BV Mehta, Executive Director, Solvent Extractors Association of India.

Subramaniam said that Sakthi Soyas, a unit of the Coimbatore-based Sakthi Group and division of Sakthi Sugars, had encouraged growers to cultivate soyabean 10-15 years ago but then it discontinued.

M Manickam, Chairman and Managing Director, Sakthi Sugars, told BusinessLine that Sakhti Soyas had earlier helped farmers cultivate soyabean in Tamil Nadu. “We did a lot of soyabean cultivation in Tamil Nadu but farmers were always looking at other crops,” he said, explaining why the initiative did not yield desired results.

As farmers in Tamil Nadu shifted from soyabean, Sakthi Soyas began sourcing soyabean from Karnataka. The firm runs one of the best soya processing plants in Asia with a capacity to crush 300 tonnes a day.

“Soyabean is a viable crop that can be grown in Tamil Nadu. A consistent follow-up with farmers is required since it takes time for them to get used to the crop,” said Manickam.

Soyabean can be grown in any part of Tamil Nadu since it requires a minimum amount of water, he said.

SEA’s Mehta said that soyabean does not require irrigation facilities and it is a 105-days crop that can be grown with the guidance of local agriculture department agencies or officials.

Tamil Nadu Agricultural University had worked with the farmers on soyabean 10-15 years ago, but officials are not sure why it was discontinued.

The move to start soybean cultivation in Tamil Nadu comes at a time when the area under the oilseed has been hovering around 120 lakh hectares (lh) over the last two years against the past decade’s average of 110 lh.

According to the third advance estimate of the Ministry of Agriculture, soyabean production this season (July 2020-June 2021) is projected at a nine-year high of 13.41 million tonnes (mt). The estimate is disputed by the trade and industry, though.

Published on June 09, 2021

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