The area under soyabean, a kharif oilseed crop, is likely to be lower this year as Indian farmers in the key-producing States of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are shifting to other remunerative crops such as corn (maize) and pulses. With the early advancement of monsoon in central India, the key producing region for soyabean, the sowing of the oilseed crop has almost been complete.

“We expect the soyabean acreage to be lower this year as farmers are shifting to other crops such as corn and pulses. Corn has given good returns last year and pulses prices are ruling high, whereas soyabean prices are down and ruling below the minimum support price levels. Obviously, farmers think that there will be much more return for crops like corn and pulses and have shifted from planting soyabean,” said DN Pathak, Executive Director, Soyabean Processors Association of India (SOPA), the apex trade body.

SOPA survey

While stating that the decrease in soyabean coverage would be all around, Pathak said the shift to corn is mainly in Madhya Pradesh, while in Maharashtra farmers have preferred to plant more of pulses and cotton. SOPA has started the survey of the sown area and the figures are likely to be available over the next couple of weeks.

Per the Agriculture Ministry data, soyabean was planted on about 60.63 lakh hectare s (lh) as of July 5. In the same period last year, soyabean acreage was 28.86 lh. During kharif 2023, the area under soyabean was 124.11 lh.

The modal price (the price at which most trades take place) of soyabean was between ₹3,971 and ₹4,500 per qunital across mandis in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, per the Agmarknet data. The Centre recently announced a MSP of ₹4,892 per quintal for soyabean — an increase of 6.3 per cent over previous year’s ₹4,600.

Slack demand

Rahul Chauhan of iGrain India said the area is looking up this year because the sowing was delayed last year due to the slow progress of monsoon. However, this year, monsoon has covered the entire country six days ahead of schedule.

Chauhan said the sowing of soyabean is still going on and the overall area may come down this year as farmers may shift to other crops like pulses such as tur and urad, paddy and corn among others.

“The market is down for soyabean, and prices have been below the MSP levels during the season. Also, the demand from the crushing industry has been less due to the ample availability of cheaper imported oils,” he added.

India’s edible oil imports increased 16.46 per cent to 1.52 million tonnes during June 2024 over 1.31 million tonnes in the same period a year ago.