In wake of unprecedented sowing of groundnut and other edible oil-seeds, the top trade body of edible oil industry in Gujarat, Saurashtra Oil Mills Association (SOMA), has demanded to curtail the import of edible oils to protect the interest of oilseed growers as well as the domestic edible oil industry.
In a representation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as the Union Ministry of Agriculture, SOMA said that as edible oils fall under the free licence category, imports of edible oils are much higher than their actual shortfall.
“Our country is facing a shortage of edible oils. Hence, India is importing nearly 65% of edible oil requirement from other countries. But the irony is against the requirement of 120 lakh tons of edible oils, we are importing on an average 150 lakh tons. Due to excess import farmers and domestic edible oil industry are being suffered,” says Samir Shah, president of SOMA praising the central government’s recent decision to put the import of refined palmolien oil under restricted category.
Since last five to six years SOMA is demanding to curtail excess import of edible oils in the interest of farmers and domestic industry, says Shah adding that there has to be some restrictions on import of edible oils to make the edible oil sector self reliant or Atma Nirbhar.
“Gujarat is the largest producer of groundnut in India. Groundnut and its oil are very rich in its nutrition value. Its use will not only make people healthier but also equip them to fight against diseases including that of Covid-19,” he said adding that due to good monsoon kharif sowing of groundnuts, soybean, sunflower and other oil-seeds have increased considerably. It means in the coming months, there would be large scale availability of domestic edible oils, he adds.
However, it is really shocking that during July 2020 India imported 15.29 lakh tons of edible oils which is 41 per cent higher than that in the previous month, says Shah. Due to this exorbitant import, farmers are not getting good prices of their commodity as the price of groundnut in the domestic market has gone down to Rs 5,300 per quintal to Rs 6,200 per quintal.
According to SOMA, putting quantitative restrictions on import of edible oils is the only remedy to protect the interest of farmers as well as the domestic edible oil industry.