‘Switchover to bio-fuels threatens edible oil production’

March 3rd, 2008 - 4:09 pm ICT by admin  

Agra, March 3 (IANS) India could face an acute crisis in edible oil resulting from a switchover to bio-fuels, a top industry official said Monday. D.S. Sri Dhara, president of the Central Organisation of Oil Industries and Trade, pointed out the new conflict between bio-fuels and edible oils that was affecting consumers particularly in developing countries.

UP Oil Millers’ Association’s president Shiv Kumar Rathod said there had been a shortfall of 10 percent in production this year due to poor rains.

This coupled with diversion of edible oils to production of bio-fuels had set the stage for a major crisis in the future, he pointed out.

He was addressing a conference of oil millers, traders, and agricultural scientists that expressed concern over the raw deal the edible oil sector had received from the national budget for 2008-09.

“India is importing substantial quantities of edible oil and we had to pay custom duties to the tune of Rs.7,000 crore (Rs.70 billion). This impacted the prices in the retail market,” said B.V. Mehta, executive director of the Solvent Extractors Association of India.

Sri Dhara asked the central government to start a special fund for development and promotion of oilseeds. His association has already drawn up an action plan.

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research also has some plans ready to deal with the impending crisis, he said.

Samajwadi Party general secretary and MP Ramji Lal Suman asked for a national policy on edible oils and oilseeds.

The conference was told that only 60 percent of the domestic demand was met by home production while the country had to import the remaining.

The central government, conference participants said, had no long-term policy for this sector.

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