Director General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Trilochan Mohapatra has stated that apart from improving the production and productivity of oilseeds in the country to meet the growing demand for edible oils, another way out was to reduce the demand by controlling the consumption to a healthy extent.

Speaking at a two-day seminar on “Technological Innovations in Oilseed Crops for Enhancing Productivity, Profitability and Nutritional Security” jointly organised by Indian Society of Oilseeds Research (ISOR) and ICAR-Indian Institute of Oilseeds Research here on Friday, he said it was the responsibility of the citizens to reduce the per capita consumption of edible oils, at least to 6 kg, not only to reduce the huge import bill but also for their better health.

The support of the government in establishing 36 seed hubs for meeting the quality seed supply was a significant step towards achieving higher oilseeds production, Mr. Mohapatra said adding that there was a need to make further value addition in castor to increase export of castor products. By reducing the gap from lab-to-land and value chain from seed to industry and technological interventions such as genome editing, speed breeding, marker associated breeding and others was required to break the yield barriers.

Import dependent

Explaining the status of the vegetable oils in the country, Director of IIOR A. Vishnuvardhan Reddy said more than 60% of the edible oils needs were met by imports — 15 million tonnes worth of about ₹69,000 crore. There was a significant achievement of increase in oilseeds production by 5.5 times to reach to 32 million tonnes from 6 million tonnes in the 1960s.

It was commendable given the fact that more than 70% oilseed cultivation was rain-fed and done in small farm holdings in the country. The present per capita consumption of 18 kg of edible oil was far exceeding the healthy limits.

Vice-Chancellor of Professor Jayashnakar Telangana State Agricultural University V. Praveen Rao favoured clear policy framework for adopting precision agriculture practices and gadgets such as sensors and drones. Former Director General of ICAR Mangala Rai, another former D-G of ICAR Panjab Singh and general secretary of ISOR M. Sujatha spoke on the oilseeds sector.

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