As per provisional data released by the Solvent Extractor Association of India (SEA), there was a 90 per cent on-year fall in import of RBD palmolein in March.
Even as the government has assured that there will be no shortage of essential goods, consumers may find it difficult to buy edible oil from the market. India’s edible oil market has fallen by 32.44 per cent in March, according to a Globoil report. India does not even produce half of its edible oil requirements and heavily depends on imports, thus a contraction in imports directly affects the availability of edible oil. “As per provisional data released by the Solvent Extractor Association of India (SEA), there was a 90 per cent on-year fall in import of RBD palmolein in March,” the report added.
The report also highlighted that many grocery shops in the state of Tamil Nadu are running out of packaged edible oil as mills have downed shutters amid restrictions on the movement of transport vehicles. Not only India, but many other countries are facing a similar challenge. One of the largest hubs of edible oil refiners – Malaysia – is also struggling through a shortage of palm fruits, a raw material to manufacture palm oil.
India’s incompetence in producing sufficient edible oil for itself is mainly due to rainfed conditions, high seed cost, smallholding with limited resources, low seed replacement rate, and low productivity. The country needs 25 million tonnes of edible oils to meet its requirement while only 10.50 million tonnes are produced domestically from primary and secondary sources and remaining 60%, is met through import, Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry had said in a reply to a question in Rajya Sabha. The country has a current consumption level of 19 kg edible oil per person per year.