As the country sets its eye on increasing domestic production of edible oils, the Indian Vegetable Oil Producers’ Association (IVPA) has pitched for tapping rice fallows in several States to diversify the crop basket and expand the existing area under edible oil crops.

It pegged an investment of ₹7,000 crore a year over the next three years to promote the oil and oilseed sector in the country. Of the estimated annual expenditure of ₹7,000 crore, efforts for crop diversification and area expansion would require ₹5,500 crore.

The association has estimated that about one-third of the paddy area in kharif can be tapped to grow edible oilseed crops such as mustard, groundnut and sunflower.

“Rice fallow lands can be utilised for short duration oilseeds crops that can be grown in 80-90 days,” IVPA President Sudhakar Desai told businessline.

Cutting import dependence

The IVPA, at its recent meeting in Hyderabad, discussed ways to increase the domestic production of edible crops to reduce the dependence on imported oil.

Even as the Union government announced a national Oil Palm mission, the Telangana government has announced plans to grow the edible crop on eight lakh hectares (lh). “To begin with, we are planting the crop on 70,000 hectares,” Telangana Agriculture Minister S Niranjan Reddy said.

The State is planning to convert a part of the paddy area into palm oil, keeping in view the challenges during the procurement season.

The IVPA wants the Government to offer subsidies for farmers to encourage them to shift from wheat and paddy to oilseeds.

Available scope

The IVPA estimates that out of the 63 lh of kharif paddy area (after the harvest) in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh about 49 lh can be used for mustard.

Similarly, about one-third of 41 lh of kharif paddy area in Bihar and Jharkhand can be used for growing mustard. In West Bengal, about 15 lh out of 40 lh of kharif paddy area can be considered for mustard, according to IVPA estimates.

“We expect an acreage shift in favour of edible oil crops in the backdrop of good prices. We need to focus on mustard, sunflower, soyabean and rice bran oil in general and mustard and rice bran, in particular, as the latter two oils are not import substitutable,” Desai pointed out.

The country produced 3.2 million tonnes of mustard oil out of a total production of 13.5 million tonnes. “We are expecting it (mustard oil) to grow to 3.5 million tonnes next year,” Desai said.

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