India unveils ambitious plan to achieve self-reliance in cooking oils

India’s reliance on edible oil imports has been glaring, with the country importing nearly 165 lakh tonnes of cooking oils, valued at ₹1.38 lakh crore during the 2022-23 marketing year. Notably, palm oil imports predominantly come from Malaysia and Indonesia, while soyabean oil is sourced from Argentina and Brazil.

The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) has lauded the government’s visionary initiative, the ‘Atmanirbhar Oil Seeds Abhiyan.’ The initiative, spearheaded by the government, is poised to revolutionize the country’s edible oil landscape by focusing on key oilseeds such as mustard, groundnut, sesame, soybean, and sunflower.

Currently, India finds itself heavily reliant on imports, with approximately 150 lakh tonnes of edible oil, valued at over 1.35 lakh crore (USD 17.25 billion) annually, being brought in from overseas markets. The SEA President, Ajay Jhunjhunwala, expressed gratitude towards the government for championing this transformative endeavour, emphasizing its holistic approach encompassing research, modern farming techniques, market linkages, procurement, value addition, and crop insurance.

The SEA has underscored the importance of adequate financial backing to realize the objectives outlined in the ‘Atmanirbhar Oil Seeds Abhiyan.’ With a clear target of reducing import dependency from 60 per cent to 30 per cent within the next five years, the association has called upon the Finance Minister to allocate sufficient funds for the initiative’s successful execution.

Furthermore, the SEA has advocated for private sector involvement through partnerships with companies engaged in oilseed extension programs and research activities. This collaborative synergy, endorsed by the central government, is envisioned to complement official efforts and significantly enhance oilseed production and productivity across the nation.

In her budget speech, the Finance Minister reaffirmed the government’s commitment to achieving self-reliance in oil seeds. She outlined a comprehensive strategy encompassing research, adoption of modern farming techniques, market linkages, procurement, value addition, and crop insurance, targeting key oilseed varieties essential for domestic consumption.

India’s reliance on edible oil imports has been glaring, with the country importing nearly 165 lakh tonnes of cooking oils, valued at ₹1.38 lakh crore during the 2022-23 marketing year. Notably, palm oil imports predominantly come from Malaysia and Indonesia, while soyabean oil is sourced from Argentina and Brazil.

The unveiling of the ‘Atmanirbhar Oil Seeds Abhiyan’ marks a watershed moment in India’s quest for self-sufficiency in the cooking oil sector. With concerted efforts from both the government and industry stakeholders, coupled with strategic investments and robust policy frameworks, the nation is ready to chart a transformative trajectory towards achieving self-reliance in this crucial aspect of its economy.