Government Endeavors To Overcome The Edible Oil Crisis In India

A few facts about edible oil crops:
Of the total 95 million tons of vegetable oil produced annually, palm oil accounts for over 28 million tons, synthesized from oil palm, which, incidentally, is the second largest cultivated oil – crop in the world, the first being soy – oil. Production of palm oil enhances the economic growth of such oil producing countries and the palm oil also serves as an integral part of the worldwide daily diet of millions of people.
The pressing global demands for edible oil has led to the massive plantations of oil crops, namely soy – oil in South America and palm oil in the tropical countries, the two most globally consumed edible oil. Malaysia and Indonesia remains the largest producers of palm oil in the world. However, there is a necessity for focusing on the sustainable nature of such oil plantations. While well managed small plantations of oil crop prove to be a sustainable source of palm oil, the rapid expansion of the oil – crop plantation has increased the plantation areas by 43 percent, in the chief palm oil producing countries, like Indonesia and Malaysia, in the last decade. Such major expansion of oil plantation has led to the violations of environmental issues, through major afforestations, to make way for oil – crop plantation, jeopardizing the rich ecosystem of bio – diverse zones, encroachments in eco – sensitive zones etc., which considerably reduces the sustainable nature of oil crop plantations.
Dearth and demand of edible oil in India:
In the global perspective, India happens to rank fourth in the consumption of palm oil, and the net oilseed production of India has a stake of 7.4 percent in the global production. As mentioned before, self reliance in oilseed production is an exponent for the economic and agricultural growth of a country. However, the palm oil production capacity of our country falls much below the demands generated by the populace of the country, the current production capacity of the palm oil in our country is simply incapable of meeting the cooking oil necessity of the expanding population of our country. To meet the increasing demand for edible palm oil, India relies heavily on import of palm oil in crude form, from Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil and Argentina, which seems to have increased considerably in the recent times. As per a rough estimate, the current demand for edible oil in India is more than 125 lakh tons, whereas the country’s production capacities are barely 75 lakh tons. In 2008 – 2009 the annual export of oilseeds touched 5 million tons, worth Rs 15, 873.6 crores. By 2020, the projected consumption of edible oil in India is an estimated 20.8 million tons, with per capita consumption expected to touch a yearly 16 kilos.
Edible oils are an integral part of the regular Indian food, a source of calories and rendering that special rich taste associated with the food of our country. The current consumption of per capita edible oil is calibrated at a yearly 11.1 kilos, while the global average amounts to 14.5 kilos, with the first word countries averaging an annual per capita consumption of 26 kilos. Non – customary sources can contribute about 25 lakh tons to the indigenous productions of edible oil, but such sources are heavily under – utilized, producing a meager 8 lakh tons. The dramatic outcome of the 1998 – 1999 ‘yellow revolution’ is accredited, largely to a drastic increase in the oil plantation areas by a considerable amount of 26 million hectares, backed by a superior technology.
Envisaged to improve self – dependency in oil – crop production, it was essentially a pro – farmers’ approach, equipping them with modern technologies, fair pricing for their oil – crops and providing them with adequate storage and processing infrastructure. While The National Dairy Board was vested with the responsibility of enhancing groundnut production capacities in Gujarat, through collaboration with the oilseed farming sectors of the said area, the National Oilseeds and Vegetable Oil Development Board was entrusted to propagate the concept of oilseeds, in the futuristic regions. In an addition to all these, a unique oilseed booster program was initiated to enhance the production of different varieties of oilseeds, namely groundnut, mustard – rapeseed, soybean and sunflower, the four primary edible oil crops in India.
However, under the current circumstances, cooking oil is still plagued by a substantial shortfall, which is a reflection of the fact that, the ‘Oilseeds Technology Mission’ and an enhanced oil palm plantation was unsuccessful in bringing about any discernable change in the oilseed production of our country. It seems that the call of the day is another ‘yellow revolution’, which would undoubtedly make India, self dependant in edible oil production, and enhance the economic as well as the agricultural growth of the country.
Endeavors of the Ministry of Agriculture to enhance edible oil production in our country:
The Ministry of Agriculture had announced the outlines of an exclusive mission plan, as a part of the Five Year Plan, to enhance the productions of oilseed and oil – palm. As confirmed by a concerned developmental official, “According to the production estimate, while internal supply of edible oilseed is around 38.5 million tons, demand is roughly 59mt. The gap is met increasingly through imports, a drag on the exchequer. Therefore, whatever schemes are running for oil palm and oilseeds will be clubbed and a new national mission floated”. Oil and oilseeds had been merged under the centre financed Integrated Scheme of Oilseeds, Pulses, Oil – palm and Maize (ISOPOM), in 2004.
The sub- programs under ISOPOM will witness an expansive implementation under the proposed national mission. Concerned authorities confirmed that, though the entire blueprint has not been finalized yet, the allocation meant for oil palm only, was a supposed Rs 10,000 crore. ISOPOM is also ready to pitch in attractive financial aids for the States under the new National Mission, which will also secure the involvement of the private sectors. Under the proposed national mission, special focus is to be given to the presently skewed demand supply balance of edible oil, by stressing on the less popular oilseeds as well, namely safflower, nigerseed, bran and rice. The proposed national mission also has plans of borrowing latest technologies from the edible oil exporting countries, to curtail the time period beginning with the sowing of oilseeds and the final production of edible oil.
Conclusion –National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil – palm:
As of October 4th, 2013, the Government has announced a grant of Rs 3,507 crores, as a part of the 12th Five Year Plan, to thrust the production of oilseeds. As confirmed by the statement, issued on behalf of the Government, in this regard, “The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the implementation of National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil – palm with an allocation of Rs 3,507 crores”. The proposed National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil – palm also includes acquiring an area of 12.5 lakh hectares to be used exclusively for oil – palm plantations. Added to this, the National Mission is planned to accelerate the production of fresh fruit bunches, from 4927 kilos per hectare to 15,000 kilos per hectare, which will result in an increased collection of tree borne oilseeds to 14 lakh tons. The statement further confirmed, “The implementation of the proposed Mission would enhance production of vegetable oil sources by 2.48 million tons from oilseed (1.70 million tons), oil – palm (0.60 million tons) and tree – borne oilseeds (0.18 million tons) by the end of the 12th Plan Period”.
The National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil – palm will also focus on issues like diverse replacements and ‘increased Seed Replacement Ratio’, improving irrigation in oilseed plantation areas (from the present 26 percent to a proposed 38 percent) and variegation of agricultural land, through replacement of low yield cereals with oilseed crops. The Mission would also encourage alternate oilseed farming with other crops, and further extension of the area under oilseed agriculture inclusive of inactive, ploughed agricultural areas. The Mission would also ascertain quality control of the oilseeds, for oil – palm and other varieties of tree borne oilseeds. A pro – farmers’ program, the Mission has plans of including every kinds of farmer in this program, and providing them with the latest technical know – how and raw materials, to encourage and enhance oilseed production.