HYDERABAD: The only ways that the National Mission on Edible Oils (Oil Palm) can see success in the short run are by declaring oil palms as a plantation crop and creating a corpus fund by levying a cess of 0.5 per cent on edible oil imports to give protection to the domestic farmers growing oil palms, said Shobhana Pattanayak, former secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
He was addressing the concluding day’s session of the five-day National Conference on Vegetable Oils-2023, which was organised by the Indian Institute of Oilseeds Research (IIOR) at the Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University, on Saturday.
Though edible oil imports have been around 14-15 million tonnes every year, four years ago, the imports were valued at Rs 75,000 crore, said Pattanayak. However, because of the price escalation in the international markets, the country was presently spending Rs 1,56,000 crore to reduce the import of edible oils.
Stating that drip irrigation needs to be made compulsory for plantations, he said marginal and sub-marginal lands are needed for growing oil palms. He also emphasised the need for attracting private industries in the NMEO.
Increasing the production of coconut oil, banning the blending of high- and low-value oils, promoting the sale of pure edible oils, using castor oil in secondary and tertiary downstream domestic industries, introducing oilseeds in the non-traditional areas like rice fallows, setting-up seed hubs in ICAR, incentivising the farmers by giving them subsidies and other means to increase oilseeds production were suggested by Pattanayak.
Vijay Paul Sharma, chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, said there was a need to look into the trade policy, as the landed cost of the edible oils imported shouldn’t be less than the cost of production as against the minimum support price (MSP) for the domestically cultivated oilseeds.
He suggested reducing the yield gap between the potential yield and actual yield, linking them with financial lending systems, use of new technology whether it is in bringing out varieties or use of machinery, creating infrastructure for processing and value-addition, and giving the right incentive to farmers through MSP and other alternatives.