Subsidy on edible oil to poor: Pawar

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New Delhi, Jul 17 (UNI) Minister for Agriculture, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Sharad Pawar today said the Centre has provided relief to the poorer sections of the society by making available edible oil with a subsidy of Rs 15 per kg through the State Governments.

Informing the Consultative Committee attached to his ministry, Mr Pawar said the other measures taken in the context of rise in prices of edible oil include reduction of import duty to zero per cent on crude oil and 7.5 per cent on refined oils, ban on export of all major edible oils and authorising State Governments to impose stock limits.

However, in the long run, availability of edible oils at reasonable prices can be ensured only by increasing production of edible oilseeds in the country, Mr Pawar said.

The wholesale prices of mustard oil has over the last one year gone up by about 38 per cent whereas groundnut oil prices have increased by three per cent in the domestic market. International prices of soyabean oil and RBD palmolein have gone up by 84 per cent and and 47 per cent respectively whereas domestic prices of these oils have gone up by 45 per cent and 29 per cent respectively during the same period of last one year, the Minister said.

''Therefore, to moderate the prices of edible oils, the increase in the domestic prices of edible oils has been kept low as compared to international prices,'' he added.

He also informed the members that inspite of 167 per cent increase in domestic production of oilseeds from 108 lakh tonnes in 1985-86 to 288.2 lakh tonnes in 2007-08, domestic supply of edible oils fall short because demand for edible oils has been increasing at a pace faster than that of production due to growth in population and improvement in the standards of living of people.

According to the projections made for the 10th Five Year Plan, the annual consumption of edible oils in the country has increased from 98 lakh tonnes in 2001-02 to 124 lakh tonnes in 2006-07. The demand is projected to increase from 127 lakh tonnes in 2007-08 to 149 lakh tonnes in 2011-12. The deficit in domestic supply of about four to five million tonnes of edible oils is being met by imports.

Mr Pawar also informed that the Government has taken a number of initiatives to improve the productivity and production of oilseeds in the country. An allocation of Rs 320 crore has been made under Centrally-Sponsored Integrated Scheme of Oilseeds, Pulses, Oilpalm and Maize (ISOPOM) during 2008-09. The States can take up activities for oilseeds development under other schemes, such as Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) and Macro Management of Agriculture.

The production of oilseeds increased from 11 million tonnes in 1985-06 to 29 million tonnes in 2007-08. This was brought about not only by an increase in area but also by improving the productivity from 570 kg to 1064 kg per hectare. There has been a record oilseed production during 2007-08, which is about 19 per cent higher than the production in 2006-07.

The Minister said enhanced incentives are provided to the farmers through fixation of higher Minimum Support Price (MSP) of major oilseeds so as to make oilseeds cultivation profitable to farmers. MSP for Groundnut which was Rs 1,340 per quintal in 2001-02 has been raised to Rs 1,550 per quintal in 2007-08. MSP for Mustard which was Rs 1,300 per quintal in 2001-02 is Rs 1,800 per quintal in 2007-08.

The Minister further informed that the import dependence of edible oils has been 34-39 per cent of the total of edible oil consumption of 120-133 lakh tonnes during the last few years. Of the oils imported, palm oils constituted 67 per cent in 2006-07 and 90 per cent in 2007-08 (up to May 2008), he noted.

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