Indore-based Soybean Processors Association of India (SOPA) on Wednesday urged the Centre government not to allow the import of genetically modified (GM) soyabean meal claiming that it will adversely impact the local processors and farmers since the country does not allow cultivation of GM food crops.
“We understand that the poultry industry has once again requested the government to permit the import of GM soybean meal. The suggestion for further import of GM soybean meal by some traders and poultry industry will be totally counter-productive,” SOPA Chairman Davish Jain said in a letter, addressed to Union Animal Husbandry Secretary Atul Chaturvedi.
Jain said the poultry industry has projected demand of 90 lakh tonnes (lt) of soybean meal which is totally wrong and is not supported by facts. “This inflated demand is being given only to make a case for imports,” he said, adding there would be carryover stock of almost 20 lt of uncrushed soyabean at the end of the season in September 2022.
He was of the opinion that there was no justification for the import of soyabean meal. Higher prices of soyabean and soyabean meal is a reality which has to be accepted, he said and attributed the hike to farmers’ refusal to sell at previous year’s rates.
Asked why the industry has not become competitive, SOPA’s Executive Director, DN Pathak, said GM soyabean has been allowed in those countries where the productivity is much higher but that is not the case in India.
He said the imported soybean meal is cheaper at around ₹58,000 per tonne, while the domestic prices are ruling at ₹62,000-63,000 per tonne.
He also said the industry did not oppose the import decision last year, as there was a short supply. “That is not the case this year. The domestic crop of soybean is higher by 25-26 lt this year while soybean meal exports are estimated to decline to 10 lt from 20 lt in 2020-21 (October-September). So, there is no supply crunch,” Pathak said.
Last year, the government had allowed imports of 12 lt of GM de-oiled soya cake, used as livestock feed, and only 6 lt were imported actually, Pathak said.
The association, in the letter to Chaturvedi, pointed out that the country has been suffering in terms of edible oil supply because of the policy of depending on imports and there has not been much efforts to increase oilseed production. “If we import soybean meal also, this will be opening up the door for imports for future, running into billions of dollars,” the letter said.