Not only crude, India heavily depends on edible oil imports too; here’s why there is production crisis

The country needs 25 MT of edible oils to meet its requirement at the current consumption level of 19 kg per person per year.

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India does not even produce half of its edible oil requirements, 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 at the current consumption level of 19 kg per person per year. “Out of the total requirement, 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 said in a reply to a question in Rajya Sabha.  

The oilseed production of the country has been growing impressively. Despite this, there exists a gap between the demand and supply of oilseeds, which has necessitated sizable quantities of imports, the minister added. Soybean, rapeseed & mustard, groundnut, sunflower, safflower & niger are the primary sources while oil palm, coconut, rice bran, cotton seeds & tree-borne oilseeds are the secondary sources of production of edible oil in India. 

To increase the domestic availability of edible oil and reduce import dependency, the government has proposed a National Mission on Edible Oils (NMEO) for the next five years. The proposal is based on achieving results in three key areas to increase production of oilseeds and edible oils from primary sources such as annual crops, plantation crops, and edible TBOs; secondary sources such as rice bran oil and Cottonseed oil; and consumer awareness for maintaining edible oil consumption constant at 19.00 kg per person per annum. 

The government intends to increase production from 30.88 to 47.80 million tonnes of oilseeds that will produce 7.00 to 11.00 million tonnes of edible oils from primary sources by FY25. Also, it is expected that edible oils from secondary sources will be doubled from 3.5 to 7 million tonnes. Meanwhile, at present, crude palm oil is freely importable while refined palm oil and palm olein have been put under the ‘Restricted’ category for imports since 8 January 2020. The restriction is applicable to imports from all countries. 

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