Agri Business

Increase in import bill of edible oil calls for implementation of Oilseeds Mission

Our Bureau Mangaluru | Updated on November 22, 2021

SEA is planning to depute a delegation to Myanmar in near future to explore the Myanmar market for Indian oilmeals

The Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA) of India has said that the Government needs to implement National Mission on Oilseeds as a special programme’ and execute it on a mission mode if tangible results are desired.

In a letter to the members of SEA of India on Monday, Atul Chaturvedi, President of SEA of India, said that India’s dependence on import of edible oils is nearly 65 per cent of the total consumption of about 22 to 22.5 million tonnes (mt). He said the country is compelled to import nearly 13-15 mt to bridge the gap between demand and domestic supply.

Import has been reduced to nearly 13 mt in the last two years due to the Covid pandemic.

In 2019-20 the import of edible oils dropped to 13.2. mt valued about ₹71,600 crore. In 2020-21, India imported similar quantity but import bill jumped by 63 per cent and touched an alarming level of ₹1.17 lakh crore due to hike in international prices of edible oils.

He said import of edible oil is the third largest item on import bill next only to crude petroleum oils and gold.

“We hope and believe this alarming rise in import bill of edible oils would galvanise the decision makers into launching the long-awaited National Mission on Oilseeds with adequate funding,” he said.

With the country moving towards normalcy and edible oil consumption picking up, any delay on this count will compound the problems, he said.

On the recent reduction in the selling price of edible oils by SEA members, he said on the request of the SEA of India many leading manufacturers of edible oils voluntarily reduced the price by ₹5-15 a kg. This was appreciated by the Government and consumers.

“However, with international markets once again on the boil, whether this reduction is sustainable becomes a question mark in view of our heavy dependence on imports. Let’s see what the future has in store for us as well as Indian consumers,” he said.

Rabi sowing

On rabi crop sowing, he said the initial sowing report coming in for mustard and other rabi oilseeds are encouraging. The latest sowing report as on November 18 indicates about 26.06 million hectares covered in rabi sowing compared to 23.93 million hectares during the same period last year.

Mustard planting has increased by nearly 30 per cent and reached 65.2 lakh hectares when compared to 49.9 lakh hectare same period last year. High price of mustard during sowing season has encouraged farmers to expand area under mustard seed cultivation, and expressed hopes to see record acreage and production of mustard in the country during the current rabi season.

Myanmar

On the potential for Indian oilmeals in the Myanmar market, he said there is ample opportunity to increase India’s share in this market as the country has logistic advantage and ability to supply in small lots by container loads. SEA is planning to depute a delegation to Myanmar in near future to explore the Myanmar market for Indian oilmeals.

Myanmar annually imports around 50,000-70,000 tonnes of various oilmeals, including soyabean meal, rapeseed meal and ricebran extraction from India mainly in container load.

At present, Myanmar has 12 feed mills set up by multinational companies and nine feed mills set up by locals.

He said feed production and consumption is increasing by 12-15 per cent per annum. The total demand for oilmeals in Myanmar is nearly 7 lakh tonnes.

Ricebran extraction

On the Department of Food and Public Distribution under the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution direction to Food Corporation of India (FCI) to step up efforts for upgrading the rice mills so as to produce better quality of rice bran, he said FCI’s regional offices were directed to encourage the rice mills to set up the new solvent extraction units for rice bran oil production to push the production of rice bran.

He said there are more than 150 solvent extraction units processing ricebran across the country in all rice producing states, having enough capacity (utilization is less than 45 per cent). Rather excess capacity is available in cluster to process rice bran produced by the rice millers.

He said the association has strongly requested the Department of Food and Public Distribution and also to FCI not to encourage setting of new solvent extraction plants as industry has sufficient capacity and requested to focus on upgrading the rice mills so as to improve the quality of rice bran.

Published on November 22, 2021

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