Edible oil industry wants import of refined palm oil to be restricted

NEW DELHI: The government should not issue licenses for import of refined palm oil to companies to protect local refiners and oilseed growers, said edible oil associations and analysts.

Edible oil industry body Indian Vegetable Oil Producers Association (IVPA) and The Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEA) have asked the government to addresses the issue and given representation in this regard to Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal.

The industry also said that labour availability for packing and ensuring farmers get minimum support price for mustard should be the focus for now.

Last week, the government had allowed imports of refined palm oil after restricting them in January, to ensure availability and stable prices in the domestic market.

“The decision for easing the conditions for import of refined palm oil might be due to the present lock-down situation but this will have an adverse impact on the domestic edible oil refining industry and its ancillary units. India has sufficient quantity and capacities to refine the crude palm oil,” said Sudhakar Desai, president, IVPA in a letter the Commerce ministry.

The total monthly demand of palm oil alone has come down by almost 80% to 3.5 to 4 lakh tonne post the lockdown due to drop in institutional sales, said Atul Chaturvedi, president, SEA. This demand can easily be met by the domestic edible oil refining industry, said companies.

Chaturvedi said, that mustard farmers who were harvesting the crop were getting prices below the MSP of Rs 4,410 per quintal and import of refined palm oil will further add to the woes of the farmers by way of lower realisation for their produce.

Currently, the crude palm oil prices are at Rs 680 per 10 kg in wholesale which is similar to a month ago, said Sandeep Bajoria, chief executive officer of oil consultancy firm Sunvin Group. “Prices are in a reasonable range , demand has dropped and we don’t think it’s advisable to allow refined palm oil import,” he said

India has been importing 15 million tonnes of vegetable oils annually from Indonesia, Malaysia, Ukraine and USA and out of this palm oil comprises 9 million tonnes.

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