African soybean imports into India have begun to pose a serious threat to the country’s farmers. Significantly, top industry sources claim that these imports do not meet the current plant quarantine rules of the country.
This season, some 40,000 tonnes have already been imported into India in the last six months as opposed to 20,000 tonnes imported last year. India has reported a bumper production of around 114 lakh tonnes this year because of which farmers are concerned over falling prices.
Moreover, these imports have been done at zero duty incentives given to least developed countries and they are being done in violation of the existing plant quarantine rules, industry experts pointed out.
According to D N Pathak, executive director, Soybean Processors Association of India, the association has been following up the issue with the government.
In spite of regular follow up and reminders, no action was ever taken to stop the illegal import.
This has encouraged the importers, as a results of which, much higher quantities have been imported this year, he said.
On one hand, the country has enough soybean for export while on the other hand it is being imported into the country. These imports are mostly happening through private traders, according to industry experts.
In a representation sent to the ministry, the Association had stated that soybean is being imported into India from various countries and sought to seek information from the government in case the imports have been cleared illegally without a relaxation in the rules or a specific permission from the government office.
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The Association in its representation has urged the government to take strict and immediate action against such imports, impound the consignments immediately and also issue instructions that illegal imports do not take place any more.
Pathak pointed out that farmers from Madhya Pradesh have already begun to protest against these imports. Maharashtra farmers have also expressed dissatisfaction about these imports since soybean prices have taken a beating after the demonetisation move of the government and they are forced to sell the commodity at Minimum Support Prices (MSP). Soybean production in the country is expected to touch 114.91 lakh tonnes in 2016 from 70 lakh tonnes a year back because of good weather and rains, SOPA has said.