Budget 2024: Edible oil industry aims to formulate policy at an early stage to achieve self-sufficiency.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced that she will focus on promoting edible oil crops and the industry hopes that a strong policy framework will be put in place at an early stage as the government has set up for oil palm plantations in the country.

The consumer sector of foreign currencies, since the country is still dependent on imports to satisfy the demand for cooking oil, wants political support to reduce the dependence on imports by half to at least 30 percent. India imports about 150,000 tonnes of edible oil worth over ₹ 1.35 lakh annually.

In the Budget speech on Thursday, the Finance Minister said that the government is formulating a strategy to achieve atmanirbharta for oilseeds such as mustard, groundnut, sesame, soybean and sunflower. “This includes research on high yielding varieties, widespread adoption of modern farming techniques, market linkages, procurement, value addition and crop insurance”. Announcing the Atmanirbhar Oil Seeds Abhiyan, that the government wants to continue the initiative announced in 2022.

Staying at the political front

Although the government has talked about launching a strategy to deal with the issues in this area, no there is a lot going on in terms of policy making. “The government has put in place a good policy framework to promote the oil palm industry. We are looking forward to a similar policy for oil palm. We hope that the government will soon ensure the allocation of money to implement it,” the president of IVPA (Indian Vegetable Oil Producers Association ) told Businessline. Welcoming the announcement, the oil palm mission is a well integrated plan and some form of it will promote the edible oil industry online. “We presented a detailed paper to the government on what could be done to promote the industry”. The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) has welcomed the Finance Minister’s announcement that the move will help the country significantly reduce its oil import bills.

SEA President Ajay Jhunjhunwala said the plan covers important aspects like research into high yielding varieties, widespread adoption of modern farming techniques, market linkages, procurement, value addition and crop insurance. “We have requested finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman for adequate financial support for successful implementation of Atmanirbhar Oil Seeds Abhiyan. According to him, our goal is to reduce the current dependence on edible oil imports from 60 percent to 30 percent in the next five years.

Gemini Edibles and Fats India Ltd Managing Director Pradeep Chowdhry welcomed the government’s plan as governments have been talking about the same for the past few years. Noting that several refineries are coming up across the country, he said the scale of such efforts would depend on the growth of domestic oilseeds. Soybean Processors Association of India (SOPA) President Davish Jain said he expects the government to announce a hike in import duties on edible oils to reduce India’s dependence on imports and boost domestic edible oil production.

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