New Delhi: The commerce ministry has asked the agriculture ministry to prepare a road map for India to attain self-sufficiency in edible oil production. The need for a “zero edible oil import” plan was discussed by commerce minister Piyush Goyal at an inter-ministerial meeting on Tuesday.

India spends over Rs 70,000 crore to import about 15 MT edible oil to meet its annual requirement of 25 MT, making it one of the biggest buyers of the cooking medium.

“The aim is to help farmers and local industry, apart from reducing the current account deficit,” said a senior commerce ministry official who was present at the meeting. “Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while presenting the budget, had also urged farmers to make India self-sufficient in edible oil production. The government is taking serious steps for attaining this.”

The government has already constituted a Group of Secretaries (GoS) for launching a nationwide oil seed mission to minimise oil imports. It will be rolled out soon, the official said, adding that the government may levy a 2-10% cess on import of crude and refined edible oil to fund the mission.

“Earlier, a fund of Rs 10,000 crore was mooted to support this mission for five years. But, now, they (GoS) are looking at raising it through levying cess on industry,” the official said. The industry, however, wants the government to set aside a corpus from the revenue it earns from the duty on crude and refined edible oil imports.

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