ICAR prepares a 5-year road map to raise oilseeds productivity

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To bring in self-sufficiency in oilseeds sector, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has prepared a five-year road map, under which area expansion and productivity increase will be the major focus. However, the actual implementation of the proposed initiatives will depend on the budgetary allocation for the self-sufficiency programme, says a report in Financial Express.

In her budget speech early this month, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “I place my appreciation for our farmers who have made India self-sufficient in pulses. I am sure they will repeat such a success even in the production of oilseeds. Our import bill shall be reduced by their Seva,” She, however, did not announce any particular scheme, nor any allocation made for the existing scheme for increasing the domestic production of oilseeds.

Outlining the likely initiatives, ICAR’s director-general Trilochan Mohapatra said there were about 12-million hectare rice fallow land which was kept vacant after paddy harvest. Around a quarter of this area (3-4 million hectare) could be brought under oilseeds in short-term. 

“Mustard is best suitable for these areas as it needs only irrigation twice in the entire duration from sowing to harvest,” he said. Area under sunflower seed would also be increased under the plan, he added.

ICAR is also considering ways to reduce the gap between productivity potential and its actual realisation. The productivity of oilseed sector in total is about 1.5 tonnes per hectare while the potential is 3 tonnes per hectare. There are areas where yield is higher and it is lower than national average in some parts.

India’s import dependence on edible oil has increased to 70 per cent (about 15 million tonne per year) now from about 3 per cent in 1992-93 and the value of annual import bill is estimated at Rs 75,000 crore. ICAR is planning to increase the availability of edible oils through alternative sources like rice bran and cotton seeds “that would supplement the overall edible oil production.”

For the national mission on oil seed and oil palm, no allocation was made in current fiscal against Rs 352 crore in 2018-19. On July 3, the government raised the minimum support prices of four main kharif oilseeds by 4-9 per cent, highest in any category of crops.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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