The Centre plans to distribute seed kits of high-yielding soyabean and groundnut varieties free of cost to farmers as part of its four-pronged approach to increase oilseeds production in the country. The free kits are worth ₹233 crore that will be distributed during the Kharif season starting June.

As per the plan chalked out at the recent national conference on kharif campaign, these seed kits and mini kits would be distributed by the National Food Security Mission (Oilseeds and Oil Palm).

Action plan

The four-pronged action plan envisaged by the Centre — with the help of State seed agencies — includes distribution of seeds of soyabean varieties yielding not less than 20 quintals per hectare worth ₹104 crore to farmers in 73 high potential districts across in eight States such as Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, covering an additional area of 3.9 lakh hectares (lha).

Besides, it would explore the possibility of growing soyabean as an inter-crop in an area of around 1,47,500 hectares in 41 districts in six States, including Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Telangana and Chhattisgarh. The seeds used for this is expected to cost around ₹76 crore. The third one will cover 90 districts in nine States, consisting all major eight soyabean growing States and Bihar. The Central government seed agencies will supply seed mini kits worth ₹40 crore for the same.

The fourth one is focused on groundnut where seeds worth ₹13 crore will be given to farmers in seven States such as Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The productivity of these groundnut varieties is expected to be not less than 22 quintals/ha per hectare, the statement said. The Centre expects this will result in additional production of 12 lakh tonnes of oilseeds as an additional 6.37 lha will be brought under oilseed crops, including soyabean and groundnut, an official statement said. This will result in producing another 2.4 lakh tonnes of edible oils in addition to the annual production of 10-11 million tonnes.

This could see the area under oilseeds topping 200 lakh hectares during the Kharif season from 197 lha last Kharif and the normal 181 lha.

Import dependence

India, which consumes nearly 25 million tonnes of edible oil, depends on imports to meet nearly 60 per cent of its edible oil requirement. India’s annual import of edible oil totals about 14.5 million tonnes with over ₹80,000 crore of precious foreign exchange being spent on these shipments. Two-thirds or over nine million tonnes of edible oil imports are in the form of palm group of oils from Malaysia and Indonesia. While India imposes 35.75 per cent as Customs duty and cess on palm oil imports, Indian customers also have to pay for the export taxes that Indonesia and Malaysia levy on exports of these oils from their soil.

While the normal kharif oilseed area is little more than 181 lha, Indian planted close to 197 lha in the previous kharif season.

Earlier this month, the Centre said it would attempt to increase pulses production by expanding the area under the protein-rich crops through inter-cropping. It said the area under pulses would be increased by 4.05 lha with 20.27 lakh seed mini kits of various Kharif pulses being distributed.

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