The production of mustard seeds is likely to touch an all-time high of 12 million tonnes (mt) in the 2023-24 season, according to the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA). The association has released the details on the “mustard model farm” project, which was launched collectively by SEA and Solidaridad in 2020-21.

According to SEA, more than 3,500 model farms have been set up under the programme covering more than 1.25 lakh farmers in five states. A media statement said that India has witnessed a remarkable increase in mustard production year after year due to concerted efforts coupled with favourable weather and price of mustard seed.

Mustard seed production has gone up from around 8.6 mt in 2020-21, to 11 mt in 2021-22, and 11.35 mt in 2022-23. The area under cultivation has gone up from 6.70 million hectares (mh) in 2020-21 to 8.8 mh in 2022-23. The statement said the production of mustard is likely to touch an all-time high of 12 mt in the 2023-24 season with the sown area of around 10 mh, boosting the domestic supply of edible oils.

35% yield increase

Introduced in 400 model farms in five districts of Rajasthan in 2020-21, the project was expanded to Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh with 500 more model farms in 2021-22. In 2022-23, the project was taken up in 1,234 farms in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh) and Sangur (Punjab). In 2023-24, Varanasi and Karnataka were added to the list. More than 3,500 model farms have been set up so far in five States, it said.

According to SEA statement, there has been 35 per cent increase in the yield from model farms in the last five years. The average yield realised by model farms was 2414.8 kg per hectare. It was 1787.5 kg per hectare in control farms, it said.

The present rate of edible oil consumption in India surpasses the domestic production. At present, India meets nearly 60 per cent of its edible oil demand through imports. Per the latest SEA data, India imported 16.47 mt of edible oils valued at ₹1.38-lakh crore during the 2023-24 (November-October) season.

Quoting Ajay Jhunjhunwala, SEA president, the statement said the success of the mustard model farm projects is evident from the data which clearly reflects the significant growth in mustard production. These projects have not only demonstrated the potential of mustard cultivation but also have paved the way for enhancing the livelihood of farmers across the nation.

“We are encouraged by the positive outcomes and remain committed to furthering such initiatives that contribute to the prosperity of the agriculture sector in India,” he said.

Contributing to food security

Vijay Data, Chairman of SEA Rape-Mustard Promotion Council, said mustard is the most important oilseed crop for increasing the domestic edible oil production and to make India self-reliant in edible oil while enhancing income and livelihood of farmers.

Suresh Motwani, General Manager of Solidaridad, said these projects have demonstrated the potential of mustard cultivation to contribute to the country’s food security and reduce dependency on imports. “Through sustainable practices and innovative approaches we have witnessed remarkable growth in mustard production which aligns with India’s vision of achieving self-sufficiency in edible oil. We appreciate the technical knowledge support provided by the Directorate of Rapeseed-Mustardseed Research Ccentre, Bharatpur, for mustard model farm and we look forward for continued corporation and support from the institute. We remain committed to work together for the large-scale expansion of such initiative,” Motwani said.

BV Mehta, SEA Executive Director, said rapeseed and mustard seed stand out as among the most promising oilseed crops in India’s quest to diminish dependence on edible oil imports.

“It is imperative that we provide robust support to oilseed growers, particularly through efficient extension services, to bridge the awareness gap among farmers regarding superior cultivation techniques,” he said.