Increased oil imports affecting farmers

Mumbai, Nov 20 | Updated: Nov 21 2005, 06:19am hrs
Increase in the import of edible oils has started to show its effect on farmers who are getting low realisation for their produce, industry experts said, warning that the condition can worsen if it is not checked.

Farmers at the mandi are at present getting Rs 1,100 per quintal for their soybean produce which is very less. Strong measures by the government and private bodies are needed for better price realisation to the farmers, Soybean Processors Association of India (Sopa) chairman Rajesh Agrawal said here.

Re-negotiation of the edible oil import structure needs to be done by the government to safeguard Indian farmers, he said.

Crude soybean oil customs duty is less at 45% under WTO regulations compared to high crude palm oil custom duty at 85% that promotes the import of soy oil apart from international prices, he added.

In comparison to the world average of 2.4 tonne per hectare, productivity in the country is low at less than one tonne per hectare which needs to be scaled up through a series of measures to be taken through public and private participation, he added.

Sopa targets 1.5 tonne per hectare of soybean productivity in the next two to three years through well-adopted measures and will ask the Centre to grant seed subsidy to Sopa as granted to other private bodies, Mr Agrawal said.

There are farmers in the country who are producing two tonne per hectare by adopting better irrigation facilities, good seeds and seed replacement, he said.

Prestige Foods Ltd managing director Davish Jain agreed that increased imports of edible oil are affecting the domestic markets and productivity needs to be increased.