Oct 27, 2017
Amid lower oilseed prices and the subsequent financial loss to farmers, the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) has once again requested the Centre to increase the import duty on edible oils. The demand for a hike in import duty comes in the backdrop of the Gujarat government’s groundnut procurement at ?900 per 20 kg, which started on Wednesday.
Oilseeds rule below MSP
The prices of several oilseeds, including groundnut and soyabean, had tumbled below Minimum Support Price (MSP) levels owing to cheaper imports of edible oils. While groundnut prices dipped on higher production, soyabean production is estimated to be lower than last year because of the reduced interest from growers due to continuously low prices for the oilseed.
Reacting to the Centre’s move to hike the MSP for rabi crops in the range of 6-10 per cent for the year 2017-18, including wheat, barley, mustard and safflower, the SEA said it was a sensible step to support the oilseed farmers. But it added, it is equally important that market participants are able to buy the produce at MSP or above from the farmer. The challenge is to ensure prices in market yards do not fall below the MSP levels or else the government would be saddled with huge burdensome stocks.
Reduce import dependence
In a request to the government, SEA President Atul Chaturvedi stated that Centre should increase duties on imported oils to ensure farmers are able to get MSP for oilseeds or else they would continue losing interest in oilseed cultivation and our import dependence would keep rising.
Earlier the Centre had raised the import duty on crude palm oil by 7.5 per cent, RBD Palmolein by 10 per cent and crude soyabean oil by 5 per cent and also increased the duty difference from 7.5 per cent to 10 per cent between crude and refined palm oils effective August 11, 2017 to support oilseed farmers.
The SEA had also demanded an increase in the import duty on crude sunflower and rapeseed oils to 17.5 per cent — in line with crude soyabean oil. It also demanded that the duty on refined soyabean, sunflower and rapeseed oils be increased to 25 per cent — in line with RBD palmolein — to avoid opening of another flood-gate for import of such oils.
Source: The Hindu Business Line