Two days after issuing an advisory, the Centre on Friday urged states to enforce stock disclosure norms on millers and bulk traders of edible oils in order to check “hoarding” and check any further price rise. Prices of major edible oils have increased in the range of 20-48% from the year-ago levels in the retail markets.
On September 8, the Union food ministry wrote to states that since power under the Essential Commodities Act has been delegated to them, they should impose the necessary disclosure norms as “a sudden spurt in prices of edible oils/oilseeds has been observed which may be due to alleged hoarding of it by stock holders.”
The Centre has asked states to take disclosures of stock of edible oilseeds and oils with the millers and stockist to check the unfair practices of any kind and to bring transparency in the availability of edible oils, the statement said. Stockists and millers would also need to display the prices of edible oil at the premises, it said.
While the agriculture ministry has stated the kharif oilseeds acreage has marginally declined marginally by 1.6% at 192.6 lakh hectare from the year-ago level, the edible oil industry has estimated it much lower. For instance, Indore-based Soybean Processors Association has pegged the acreage under soyabean at 115.5 lakh hectare, while the government estimates put it at 121.7 lakh hectare as on Friday. Total acreage under soyabean in entire kharif season was about 128 lakh hectare last year.
“There is not much expectation of area to go up either in soyabean or groundnut from the current level as the sowing window is already over. The early-sown soyabean in Madhya Pradesh is expected to arrive after 10 days,” said an industry official. The government should not be suspicious when there is a shortfall in production and any unwanted restriction will slow down purchases of kharif oilseeds in October, the industry official said.
“In a move to check the unfair practices and to bring transparency in the availability of edible oils, Food Secretary met with state officials. The move is expected to bring relief to consumers on prices of edible oil as the new stock disclosure norms and better monitoring would deter unfair practices and hoarding,” the food ministry said in a statement.
As per the government data, pan-India average retail palm oil prices rose 42% per cent to Rs 133.75 per kg as on September 9 from Rs 94.19 per kg a year-ago. Similarly, retail price of soyabean oil rose 47% to Rs 153.42 per kg from Rs 104.29 per kg, while that of sunflower oil increased 48% to Rs 171.09 per kg from Rs 115.90 per kg in the above period. Mustard oil prices in the retail markets rose 40% to Rs 176.89 per kg as on September 9, from Rs 126.52 per kg in the year-ago period. Groundnut oil rates rose 20% to Rs 181.11 per kg from Rs 150.36 per kg a year-ago.