In its pre-Budget memorandum, the Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA) of India has asked the government to revert the import duty on crude palm oil (CPO) to the earlier level and also to place the import of refined soyabean and refined sunflower oil under restricted list.

In a pre-Budget memorandum on vegetable oil and oilseed sector for 2021-22 to the Union Finance Minister, the Union Commerce Minister, and to the Union Agriculture Minister, Atul Chaturvedi, President of SEA, said that the above-said measures along with some others are required to stimulate the oilseeds production and crushing and refining industry in the country.

Referring to the recent reduction of basic import duty on CPO from 37.5 per cent to 27.5 per cent, he said the country would be harvesting rabi mustard crop from the next two months. The duty on CPO should be again increased before February to earlier level in the interest of the mustard and other rabi oilseeds farmers to provide them a remunerative price, he said.

Requesting the government to place import of refined soyabean oil, refined sunflower oil and refined rapeseed/mustard oil under the restricted list, he said the government has already placed RBD palmolein under restricted category due to the alarming increase in import of refined palm oils. “This needs to be extended to refined soyabean oil, refined sunflower oil and refined rapeseed/mustard oil (even though the imports of these refined vegetable oils are minimal) to encourage value addition in the country,” he said.

Non-traditional oil

Seeking increase in the use of non-traditional source of oil, the SEA memorandum said policy conditions and incentives should be created for exploring full potential of various non-traditional sources of edible oils to augment the domestic edible oil availability. Any decision to explore the full potential of rice bran oil, cottonseed oil, maize oil and other minor oils could add almost one million tonnes to the edible oil pool in the next five years.

Chaturvedi said in the memorandum that the genetically modified (GM) oilseed crop could also be one of the ways to increase production in the country as this can raise the productivity by 15-20 per cent.

Indigenous GM mustard is already developed under oilseeds category now. This must be released at the earliest, he said.

Urging the government to shift acreage from grains to rapeseed/mustard in Punjab and Haryana, he said around 60 lakh hectares of land is earmarked for wheat cultivation between Punjab and Haryana. “Assuming we are able to shift 50 per cent of the available land for mustard by 2025 (through better incentives for shifting) the additional available crop would be 60 lakh tonnes of rape/mustard which translates into a whopping 25 lakh tonnes of additional oil,” he said.

The memorandum also suggested that the Centre encourage private partnership in oilseeds extension programme.

SEA asked the government to impose GST on de-oiled rice bran (which is a finished product used by poultry and cattle feed industry) at 5 per cent. Now it is nil while GST on rice bran (raw material) is 5 per cent, it said.

Apart from these suggestions, SEA also asked the Government to operationalise the ‘National Mission On Edible Oils’, and also to increase the export of oilmeals and value-added products through suitable incentive schemes.