Breaking News

National edible oil mission – a long-pending demand of the industry


Terming the government’s decision to launch a ₹11,000 crore National Edible Oil Mission – Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) as a long-delayed one, the representatives from the edible oil sector have urged the Centre to speed up the process of its implementation to bring down India’s dependence on imported edible oils.

“This is a giant step for oil palm development in the country and towards ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ in edible oil. We look forward to similar announcement for oilseeds development programme to reduce our dependence on import of edible oils,” said Atul Chaturvedi, President, Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEA).

Stressing the need to increase the production of oilseeds in the country, BV Mehta, Executive Director, SEA, told BusinessLine that this is an issue of food security. He said India’s import bill of edible oils will top ₹1.20-lakh crore this year from ₹75,000 crore last year.

While submitting an action plan to the government on ‘Raising oilseeds production and productivity and policy changes’ a few months ago, SEA had sought plantation crop status for oil palm.

According to SEA, the country has 3 lakh hectares of land under oil palm cultivation, producing around 2.80 lakh tonnes of crude palm oil (CPO) a year. There is a potential to bring 1.9 million hectares of land. It had urged the government to target additional 5 lakh hectares in the next five years.

Also read: PM Modi launches ₹11,000 cr oil palm mission

Urging the government to exempt the land identified for oil palm plantation from Land Ceiling Act for speedy development and investment, it said the farmers should be encouraged to give their land on long-term lease of 25-30 years for oil palm plantation.

The action plan had stated that this will help increase the availability of CPO by 25 lakh tonnes in the next 10 years. The government should allocate at least ₹5,000 crore per year for the next five years for tangible results in oilseeds implementation, SEA said. The amount would not be a burden at a time when the government is getting about ₹40,000 crore by the way of revenue for import of edible oil.

The heavy dependence of the country on imported edible oil is leading to the increase in the prices of the oils in the domestic market. The SEA had also suggested that the government to chalk out a 15-year programme, aiming to bring down the import dependence from the existing 70 per cent to 20-25 per cent.

Giving the example of national technology mission on oilseeds under the leadership of Sam Pitroda in 1987, Mehta said India was producing around 12 million tonnes (mt) of oilseeds back then.

“The implementation of the mission helped the country to increase the oilseed production to 22 mt by 1992. The import duty then was as high as 90 per cent. I think we have to repeat the experience of the 1987 aiming at producing 30 mt to 45 mt in the next five years,” he said.

Stating that it is not difficult to achieve this, Mehta said if the country can raise the productivity by 100 kg per hectare per year, it can reach the 45 mt target in the next five years.

SEA had given a number of suggestions to the government seeking the implementation of the Mission. It had suggested to focus mainly on soyabean, mustard, groundnut, oil palms. These crops can contribute to the additional production and availability.

“The country should ensure proper price to the farmers by keeping the import duty on a higher slide. If the farmer does not get a good price, then he will move to other crops,” he added.

IVPA sees opportunity

Sudhakar Desai, Indian Vegetable Oil Producers’ Association (IVPA) said, there is a good opportunity for the implementation of the mission as the prices of oilseeds are above MSP level and the prices have also gone up in the international market.

Also read: Centre drafts 4-pronged strategy to lift oilseeds output

However, he suggested that the government focus on State-wise and oilseed-wise strategy while implementing the oilseed mission as some crops come for yield in the short-term and long-term. He said, groundnut is a high oil-bearing oilseed and it is not import substitutable. Crops such as groundnut and rapeseed come for harvest in the short-term. Crops such as oil palm may take a little longer time, say around five years, to give results.

“Focus should also be given on to have better productivity, better hybrid seeds and irrigation facilities,” Desai added.


Source link