New Delhi, Jan 18 (IANS): The Centre should create a buffer stock of mustard seeds of at least 2.5 million tonnes, like pulses, to enhance domestic production and reduce imports of cooking oils, the Central Organization for Oil Industry and Trade (COOIT) said on Tuesday as part of its wish list ahead of the budget.
"The procurement for the proposed creation of buffer stock should be made at market price at the very beginning of crop season, which will ensure oil processing units would operate throughout the year," the COOIT, an apex body for the vegetable oils sector, said in a statement.
It also wants the government to widen the gap between import duties of crude edible oils and refined edible oils.
India imported edible oils worth Rs 1.17 lakh crore, an all-time high, in the 2020-21 oil marketing year ended October, mainly due to a sharp rise in global prices. COOIT feels that its high time the central and state governments focus on increasing domestic production of oilseeds.
"We urge the government to launch a dedicated scheme in the upcoming budget with a significant allocation to encourage farmers for cultivation of various oilseeds crops like mustard, soyabean and sunflower," COOIT chairperson Suresh Nagpal said.
The government had in August 2021 launched the National Mission on Edible Oils - Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) with a financial outlay of Rs 11,040 crore to boost domestic production of palm oil. "A similar initiative should be undertaken to increase the cultivation of mustard," he said.
"Like wheat and rice, a small quantity of mustard oil can be supplied every month to over 80 crore beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act at a subsidised rate. This will prompt farmers to cultivate mustard," the COOIT chairperson said.
The government has offered an increased MSP for mustard this year and the results have started showing with the area under mustard cultivation likely to increase by 25 per cent and mustard production estimated to be at 110 lakh tonnes.
"If the government creates a buffer stock of 25 lakh tones of mustard, it will further encourage mustard cultivation and also act as a price stabilization mechanism in case of sharp fluctuations in mustard prices as it was witnessed during 2021," Nagpal said.
The association also strongly said that the difference between import duty on crude edible oils and refined edible oils should be larger to protect the interest of domestic processors. Earlier the difference was 11 per cent, which is now at 5.5 per cent.
"This is adversely impacting crude palm oil (CPO) refining industry in India and hence, duty differential needs to be increased,a the statement said.
Established in 1952, COOIT is the national apex body representing the interests of the entire vegetable oil sector in the country and its members include state-level associations, prominent manufacturing/business, trade, and export house.