Outlining the likely initiatives, ICAR’s director-general Trilochan Mohapatra said there were about 12-million hectare rice fallow which kept vacant after paddy harvest and 3-4 million hectare of that area could be brought under oilseeds in short-term.
To bring in self-sufficiency in oilseeds sector, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research has prepared a five-year road map, under which area expansion and productivity increase will be the major focus. However, the actual implementation of the proposed initiatives will depend on the budgetary allocation for the self-sufficiency programme.
“I place my appreciation for our farmers who have made India self-sufficient in pulses. I am sure they will repeat such a success even in the production of oilseeds. Our import bill shall be reduced by their Seva,” finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her Budget speech early this month. She, however, did not announce any particular scheme, nor any allocation made for the existing scheme for increasing the domestic production of oilseeds.
Outlining the likely initiatives, ICAR’s director-general Trilochan Mohapatra said there were about 12-million hectare rice fallow which kept vacant after paddy harvest and 3-4 million hectare of that area could be brought under oilseeds in short-term. Mustard is best suitable for these areas as it needs only irrigation twice in the entire duration from sowing to harvest, he said. Area under sunflower seed would also be increased under the plan, he added.
“We are also considering ways to reduce the gap between productivity potential and its actual realisation. The productivity of oilseed sector in total is about 1.5 tonne per hectare while the potential is 3 tonne per hectare. There are areas where yield is higher and it is lower than national average in some parts. The extension department of the states will be mobilised to ensure that the yield increases to the realistic potential level,” he said.
India’s import dependence on edible oil has increased to 70% (about 15 million tonne per year) now from about 3% in 1992-93 and the value of annual import bill is estimated at Rs 75,000 crore. Asked whether it is possible achieve 100-million tonne production (to achieve self-sufficiency) from current 30-32 million tonne, Mohapatra said: “We are looking holistically to increase the availability of edible oils. There are alternative sources like from rice bran and cotton seeds that would supplement the overall edible oil production.”
For the national mission on oil seed and oil palm, no allocation was made in current fiscal against Rs 352 crore in 2018-19 (RE). On July 3, the government raised the minimum support prices of four main kharif oilseeds by 4-9%, highest in any category of crops.