Edible oil deficit to grow 73 percent by 2020: Assocham

January 5th, 2009 - 4:55 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 5 (IANS) India’s edible oil deficit is expected to widen by 73.5 percent by 2020 to more than 8.1 million tonnes a year from the current 4.71 million tonnes, said an industry lobby report, released here Monday.According to the report by the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Assocham), the edible oil consumption in the country has increased at an annual growth rate of 4.25 percent from mere 4.95 million tonnes in 1986-87 to 11.4 million tonnes in 2006-07.

“The country is likely to remain heavily dependent on imports as production growth is not sufficient to bridge this gap,” the report said, adding that the situation might aggravate further if India fails to maintain the growth in domestic vegetable oil production.

It added that one of the major hindrances for increasing production of vegetable oils is the limited scope for expansion in acreage.

“Despite some growth in yield of mustard, lack of increase in irrigation facilities is keeping acreage of mustard, a rabi crop, almost stagnant,” Assocham secretary general D.S. Rawat said.

“Even maintaining the growth rate in production of vegetable oils won’t be an easy task especially when there is increasing competition among the different crops for the cultivable land and irrigation facilities are not improving as desired,” he added.

Despite various promotional programs of the government, the farmers remain reluctant to expand oilseed acreage, thanks to the lower profitability of the crop.

The chamber added that the yield of adopted oilseeds like soybean and sunflower is just half of the global average. The yield of traditional oil seeds is also well behind the global average.

According to the report, the major reason behind the lower yield is the lack of proper irrigation coverage of oilseeds. Allotment of relatively poor quality of land to oilseeds by farmers due to their lower profitability is another reason.

As the oil palm has the highest potential of producing oil per unit of land, there is a dire need to increase its acreage in suitable regions of the country, the report said.

The government is promoting the production of palm oil through Oil Palm Development Program, but so far the desired growth has not been achieved through this program, it added.

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