India is producing 7 to 8.5 million metric tonnes of edible oil annually from 28 million hectares of land. But the country is still heavily dependent on imports with last year alone, 15 million metric tonnes of edible oil imported. This imbalance is a dangerous scenario.

Proper research and brainstorming need to be done to address this issue. This was the opinion of experts at the session on Oils and Fats at the ongoing AP Science Congress at Andhra University on Wednesday.

“In contrast to this, Malaysia produces 20 million metric tonnes of edible oil using just 5 million hectares of land. We need to understand if we are really growing appropriate crop for our soil,” said R B N Prasad of Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad and former chief scientist and head of Centre of Lipid Research.

According to credit rating agency ICRA, India occupies a prominent position in the world oilseeds industry with contribution of around 10 % in worldwide production. But the demand of edible oils (extracted from oilseeds in addition to palm oil) is significantly higher than the domestic production, leading to dependence on imports (60% of requirement).

The report stated that while there was some progress in increasing the area under cultivation and improving yields, the growth had been slow. Experts said average yield of various oilseeds crops in India, though improved, is lower than world average and significantly lower than other major oilseeds producing nations.

“There is not much research being done in this area. Investment in oilseeds research and development is a key element and should be enhanced,” Mr Prasad added. He gave a presentation on various components existing in each oil and how to choose a good oil.

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