The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEAI) has welcomed the Union Government for its plan to promote key oilseeds like mustard, groundnut, sesame, soyabean and sunflower to achieve ‘Atmanirbharata’ in oilseed sectors. It said the move would go a long way in helping the country reduce oil import bills.

Terming the ‘Atmanirbhar Oil Seeds Abhiyan’ as a visionary strategy, SEAI President Ajay Jhunjhunwala has said that the plan would cover crucial aspects such as research for high-yielding varieties, the widespread adoption of modern farming techniques, establishment of market linkages, procurement, value addition and crop insurance.

“In our appeal to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, we asked for adequate financial support for the successful implementation of the ‘Atmanirbhar Oil Seeds Abhiyan’. Our goal is to reduce the current dependency on edible oil imports from 60 per cent to 30 per cent over the next five years,” he said.

India imports about 150 lakh tons of edible oil annually, valued at over ₹1.35 lakh crore. 

In her Budget speech on Thursday, the Finance Minister said that the government would draw a strategy to achieve ‘atmanirbharta’ for oil seeds such as mustard, groundnut, sesame, soybean, and sunflower.

“This will cover research for high-yielding varieties, widespread adoption of modern farming techniques, market linkages, procurement, value addition, and crop insurance,” she said.

“We also wanted the government to promote private partnerships with companies engaged in the oilseed extension programme and research activities. This collaborative approach will complement government efforts and significantly contribute to the augmentation of oilseed production and productivity in the country,” Jhunjhunwala said.

The edible oil industry wanted the government to introduce a comprehensive programme to support dairy and fisheries farmers.