As the falling global edible oils push down the domestic oilseed rates, the Soyabean Oil Processors Association of India (SOPA) has urged the Centre to consider raising the import duties on all oils by at least 20 per cent.

In a letter to the Commerce Minister, Piyush Goyal, the SOPA Chairman Davish Jain said that all edible oil prices have been continuously falling and are at a very low level currently. “Between September 2022 and March 22, 2023, the price of imported crude soybean oil has fallen by 31 per cent. Similarly, prices of sunflower and palm oil has also fallen. The fall in soybean oil has directly affected the export of soybean meal as its price in the world market has fallen by 20 per cent, making us uncompetitive for future exports,” Jain said.

“The steep fall in edible oil prices has resulted in a fall in oilseed prices. Mustard price has already touched below MSP and may fall further. Similarly, the price of soybean has fallen by ₹6000 to 8000 per tonne in the last couple of months. The farmers are disappointed and discouraged by this policy of keeping duties very low, even after the world prices of edible oils have crashed. We would earnestly request you to consider raising customs duty on all edible oils by at least 20 per cent which will check the free fall in prices and unbridled imports,” Jain said.

The SOPA chairman further said that the duties could be adjusted periodically, depending on the price behaviour, keeping in mind the interest of the farmers, the consumer and the industry.

Over the past six months, since September 1, 2022 the global prices of crude soyabean oil have come down by 31.23 per cent till date, while the crude sunflower oils are down by 32 per cent. The prices of crude palm oil is down by 5.71 per cent, while the Argentinian soyameal rates are down by by 19.5 per cent.

Farmers backing off

Further, Jain highlighted that the government’s focus on reducing dependence on imports is being jeopardised as farmers in major oilseed growing States of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are likely to shy away from oilseed cultivation.

Recently, the Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEAI) had also urged the Centre to intervene and raise the import duty on palm oil besides encouraging agencies like Nafed to procure mustard seed at support prices and create adequate buffer stocks.