Oilseed crops are the second most important determinant of agricultural economy, next only to cereals within the segment of field crops.
The High Powered Committee (HPC) of chief ministers, led by Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, will discuss with states whether India should adopt genetically modified (GM) technologies in oilseed production to reduce import dependence.
“We are trying to build consensus. States will keep their view in the next meeting,” Fadnavis said after the second meeting of the committee. He said the committee would debate if GM technology could be used in restricted areas for oilseed production as many exporting countries are cultivating GM crops.
The proposal to allow GM seeds is significant as the committee has been tasked to suggest structural reforms to boost farm productivity and marketing of the produce to boost farmers’ income.
Oilseed crops are the second most important determinant of agricultural economy, next only to cereals within the segment of field crops. Despite being the fifth largest oilseed crop producing country in the world, India is also one of the largest importers of vegetable oils today. There is a spurt in the vegetable oil consumption in recent years. India’s import dependence on edible oil has increased to 70% (about 15 million tonne per year; cost Rs 75,000 crore) now from about 3% in 1992-93, said B V Mehta, executive director of the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India.
The HPC would suggest modalities for adoption and time bound implementation of agriculture sector reforms in two months, the Centre had said in a statement on July 1.
The terms of Reference (ToR) of the committee mandates it to examine various provisions of Essential Commodity Act (ECA), 1955 and situations that require ECA. It would suggest changes in the ECA to attract private investments in agricultural marketing and infrastructure. It would also suggest mechanism for linking of market reforms with e-NAM, GRAM and other relevant Centrally Sponsored Schemes.
Among other, the HPC will suggest policy measures to boost agricultural export, raise growth in food processing and attract investments in modern market infrastructure, value chains and logistics.