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India's Atmanirbhar Plan for Edible Oil

1 Aug 2020 12:41 pm
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Mumbai (Commodities Control) - India is a net food exporting country but depends heavily on imports of edible oils. After a mega success in case of pulses cultivation and reducing dependency on pulses imports, Government intends to replicate the performance in edible oils to lower the country's dependence on imports.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently appealed to the farmers in the North-East States to take up oil palm cultivation in a big way. It is a step to support the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative and will reduce the imports of Palm oil and make India self-sufficient in edible oils too. 


According to our sources, Centre has stepped up its efforts in this direction as well. A target of 19 Lakh Ha of area is to be brought under palm plantation. Currently India’s palm plantation was limited to 3.5 Lakh Ha, which would produce no more than 8-10 Lk tonnes of palm oil.


According to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) currently Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Mizoram have 4 palm nurseries; one in each state. This is insufficient to achieve the desired output number. Thus, the Centre is about to set up seven more nurseries in the country, through which palm saplings can be developed in the next six years. For this purpose, saplings are being imported from Thailand and Costa Rica (USA).


It is to be noted that a group of scientists formed in 2018 had recommended for palm plantation to be extended in 27 lakh Ha. Indegenous varieties of palm in this direction have been readied, as well. A hybrid variety created by ICAR scientists is capable of producing 5-6 tonnes of palm oil per hectare. Experts are of the opinion that India will be capable of producing palm oil at par with Malaysia- Second biggest palm oil producer in the World.


Past- Commodity Editor of Hindu Businessline- G. Chandra Shekhar is of the opinion that “it is extremely crucial for India to become self-reliant (‘Atmanirbhar’) in oilseed production. However, it requires robust political will. He comments that such claims aren't new and have been made several times in the past as well. The first of the attempts were made in 1988 with formation of ‘Chhadda’ Committee that recommended a target of 8 Lakh Ha of palm plantation. However, even 30 years down the line the acreage is barely past 4 Lakh hectares.”


Years later, a second recommendation for raising the area under cultivation, to 18 Lakh. Ha was put forth that received cold shoulders. ChandraShekhar adds that “self-reliance can be achieved by encouraging cultivation of mustard, groundnut and soybean which is not happening at the moment. India’s soybean productivity is three times lower than that in the USA.”



It is to be noted that the climate of the North-Eastern States is conducive for palm plantation. The government is working towards developing the coastal regions along with North-East states for the same.



The domestic consumption of edible oils in India has been outstripping the production and the gap between the two is quite significant which is being met by imports. India imports nearly 15 million tonnes annually (or nearly 68%) of edible oils to meet the country’s annual consumption demand of about 22 million tonnes. The bulk of these imports are palm oil. Of the total imports of edible oil, palm oil accounts for 60% or about 9 million tonnes.


Majority of imports take place from Indonesia and Malaysia. Indonesia and Malaysia, account for over 82 percent of world palm oil production. 

(Commodities Control Bureau)



       
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