(Atmanirbhar (atma: self ; nirbhar: reliant) Bharat : Self-reliant / Self-sufficient India)
The Honorable Prime Minister of India has set a commendable goal for all of us i.e. to be a self-reliant nation (Atmanirbhar Rashtra). Self-sufficiency in producing our own food to meet the needs of a burgeoning population is an absolute necessity. NCDEX eMarkets Limited (NeML) has always supported the Government Initiatives to support both the Small holder Farmers (SHF) and the needy people who depend on the Government to meet their daily needs. The company does this by leveraging its e-markets and services platform for enhancing the efficiency of the procurement and sales.
From being a food-deficit nation in sixties to a food-surplus nation, we have come along way. We now produce more milk, fruit and vegetables and staples than we can consume. However, the same cannot be said about edible oilseeds, pulses and a host of other food commodities.
In the series named Self-reliant India/Atmnirbhar Bharat over the next few weeks, we would share our thoughts on achieving self-sufficiency in foods that we are consuming more than what we produce.
Self-sufficiency in Edible Oilseeds
India attained self-sufficiency in food staples through “Green Revolution”; in Milk through “Operation Flood” and in Poultry and Poultry products through initiatives led by Poultry farmers. However, ‘Operation Golden Flow’ for oilseeds launched in the late eighties to replicate the success of “Operation Flood” did not yield desired results.
It is not just crude oil that hogs India’s import basket and the news. Edible oil is also a significant contributor to India’s import bill. At US$ 11 billion for FY 20,Edible Oil is now the third largest component in India’s total import bill.
At one end we have large tracts farmlands devoted to wheat, mainly buoyed by almost guaranteed purchase by the central Government at a declared Minimum Support Price (MSP); on the other we have shrinking areas under cultivation of Pulses and Oilseeds. As a country, we consume 23 million Metric Tonnes (MMTs) of vegetable oils, while our domestic production of edible oil varies between 7 MMT-8 MMT.
The acreage of Edible Oilseeds in India needs to grow three-fold to meet the domestic demand at current productivity levels. However, with enhanced productivity, we are likely to need lesser area under edible oilseed.
We have best of the Research Institutions, Agricultural Universities and above all resilient, adaptive and determined farmers to make things work in favor of self-sufficiency. A coordinated effort in enhancing the productivity and acreage of edible oilseeds could deliver the goods to us. Edible oil value chain is one of the most efficient ones, thus return to farmers as a % of end consumer price is likely to be high. We need to promote consumption of native oils and ensure that farmers are well-supported by high quality inputs including quality seeds.
Dear readers, please tell us what you think should be done to make India self-sufficient in edible oils and increase the production of oilseeds at firstname.lastname@example.org
In next part we will discuss the key actions we need to take as a country to make India self-sufficient in the production of edible oils/oilseeds and why is it a burning priority.