One of the key demands made by the States at the seventh meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog on Sunday was for effective implementation of the minimum support price (MSP) on oil seeds, whose import bill annually is to the tune of a whopping ₹1 lakh crore.

The States also pitched for better implementation of the MSP on pulses, on which although the country is nearing self-sufficiency, but still imports under 7-8 per cent of its domestic requirement.

Addressing the media on the discussions over crop diversification, edible oil and pulses, NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Suman Bery said, “It was the most extensively discussed point of the four points.”

Addressing the meeting of the Governing Council of the Niti Aayog, Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised that India should become self-sufficient in the production of edible oil.

Making MSP effective

Elaborating on the discussions at the meeting, Niti Aayog Member Ramesh Chand said that two States spoke on making MSP for pulses and oil seeds effective. Besides, the Rajasthan Chief Minister expressed that if Rajasthan gets better irrigation facilities in 13 districts, they can expand the area for mustard in a very big way, and that will help in achieving self-sufficiency.

“The states also talked about, particularly the North East, how they are expanding areas under oil palm cultivation. Like Arunachal Pradesh, they have a target of 40,000 hectares. So this year, Arunachal Pradesh is bringing 4,000 hectares under oil palm cultivation. Similarly, Tripura and like that. So mainly the demand that came was that MSP on pulses and edible oil needed to be made more effective,” he added.

Oil seeds and pulses

On the present scenario with respect to pulses, Chand said that in the last 5–6 years, India has made substantive progress in increasing the output of pulses. In fact, India is exporting a little bit of pulses while also importing some.

“In the case of pulses, we are deficient only in Masoor and to some extent in Arhaar. In other kinds of pulses, we are very close to self-sufficiency and it has happened because in the last five years there has been a big increase in production of chickpeas. In the case of pulses, our import dependence is less than 7-8 per cent. But in the case of edible oils, the import dependence is almost 50 per cent. So that’s why there is an independent mission on palm oil and other oil seeds. The situation in the case of oil seeds is quite serious in terms of dependence on imports,” he added.

Crop diversification

Chand said that the Prime Minister stressed the importance of agriculture diversification and the need to be self-sufficient, especially in edible oils.

“He mentioned that we are importing edible oils worth ₹1 lakh crore and we are meeting nearly half of our demand from edible oil imports. Then almost every state shared their experience of how they are moving in the direction of diversification, especially those states where there is some sort of stress on natural resources, stress on water like Punjab and Haryana,” he added.

The States also shared their experience on the kinds of incentives they are giving to farmers to shift the cropping pattern. Right from Andhra Pradesh up to West Bengal, states shared their achievements in increasing production, some in pulses, some in edible oil, the Niti Aayog member said.

“States made suggestions that if they are helped in a particular way, they can go for diversification in a much faster manner. “The overall impression was that states were quite cooperative and they are already working in this direction, both for diversification and to achieve self-sufficiency,” he added.