India has become the largest importer of edible oil in the world. The country imported around 11.8 million tonnes of edible oil last year from October 2013 to November 2014, which is in record itself. This year, due to unfavorable weather conditions there has been 26 percent increase in edible oil import in November. Assumptions are that import will further increase to all time high to 13 million tonnes of edible oils this year that began from November. Nation’s dependency on imported oil will reach alarming levels up to 60-65 percent.
Managing Director of Puri Oil Mills Vivek Puri says that India needs to learn from countries like Malaysia and Italy, who have managed to sell their edible oil worldwide, which in return has contributed to their economy. Government of India should formulate similar encouraging policy towards Indian oilseeds & edible oil so that farmers, consumers and manufacturers benefit from it. With right policies, India can become self dependent in edible oils and contribute to the economy by exporting it to the world. There is a need to have a vision and a plan for this industry. We request the Central government to establish a 'Mustard Oil Development Board' for the integrated development of the mustard oil industry in the country, with focus on higher productivity and value addition."
"I believe that with right policy and support it is possible in next ten years. There are few main reasons behind the increase in edible oil imports. First, oilseed production in the country does not get the appropriate incentives and encouragement. Second, because of free trade agreement with ASEAN countries, there is a huge influx of palmolive and soybean oil from countries like Malaysia and Indonesia in the Indian market at very low prices. Also, internationally, there is a huge increase in the production of oilseeds and edible oil as a result there is a sharp decline in international edible oil prices. Whereas in India, there is reduction in oilseed production the cost of production is also increasing steadily. Even though, government has hiked the import duty on crude and refined vegetable oils in a bid to help farmers and the refinery industry," he said.
Due to El Nino, this year Rabi crops has decreased drastically. According to the latest data, about 511 million hectares so far has Rabi sowing, about 5 per cent lower than the previous year. Mustard oilseeds sowing acreage has decreased by about 5-7 per cent.
Due to heavy yield of oilseeds worldwide, international edible oil prices are quite low at the moment and the foreign currency that the India has to shell out currently to import edible oil is not seen as a major economic pressure. But there is no assurance that world’s increased oilseed production and cheap prices would carry on for the longtime. Due to this reason, it is imperative that India must have a policy and framework in place which encourages increase in domestic oilseed production in the country. The new technology and the use of high yielding varieties can give a fresh boost to our farming system as well as indigenous edible oil Industry. This is not the case throughout to save foreign exchange but increasing domestic oilseed production should be linked to of food security program and Prime Ministers ‘Make in India’ initiative needs to be imbibed in Indian edible oil sector as well.