Solvent extractors ask govt to stop pampering urban consumers, encourage oilseed farmers
The Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA) of India has urged the Government to encourage the oilseed farmers and stop pampering urban consumers at the cost of farmers.
This was discussed at a virtual meeting of SEA representatives with Shudhansu Pandey, Secretary, Department of Food and Public Distribution, Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, on Monday.
SEA, which made a presentation to the Ministry, said that edible oil inflation has been kept bottled for almost two decades with disastrous results on oilseed cultivation. Following this, the country’s dependence on imports has grown to 70 per cent.
It said that an individual consumes about 1 litre oil per month on a rough basis. An increase of ₹10/kg would be only about ₹10/month per head, it said, adding inflation fears are unfounded.
Mentioning that any effort to reduce duties or import at subsidised import duties through public sector undertakings would be counterproductive and not serve any purpose, it said the country would send wrong signal to farmers with such a move.
“History and our own experience teach us that if duties are reduced in India, the international values go up thus negating the effect of duty reduction. Let status quo remain as prices have not reached biting point,” it said.
On the oilseed production scenario, it said that the country has witnessed good planting of soya and groundnut. Though late rains affected overall crop numbers, both soya and groundnut crops are higher than the previous year even with some damage to crops due to late rains.
SEA said that farmers are getting good prices both for soya and groundnut and ‘mandi’ prices are ruling 8-10 per cent higher than minimum support price.
It said that mustard prices have strengthened big time enthusing farmers to plant more mustard for rabi. “Planting is going on aggressively and we should not be surprised if we have 20-25 per cent more acreage this year, and so production,” SEA said in the presentation.
It hoped that production response will come from farmers with good oilseed prices. “We should not be surprised if domestic mustard production during current year goes up by close to 1.5 million tonnes,” it said.
On the consumption of palm oil, SEA said around 30 per cent of palmolien usage has come down due to the closure or non-operation by the HoReCa (hotels, restaurants and catering) segment. Added to this, a majority of Indians are not preferring outside food because of hygiene and safety concerns.
Though commercial cooking is making its attempt to revive itself after relaxations in lockdown norms, the percentage of hotel-goers, travellers and office-goers is still very less, it said.
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