India allows import of over 5 lakh tonnes of genetically modified soymeal to help poultry industry

The government has approved the import of around 0.55 million tonnes (mt) of genetically-modified (GM) soymeal as poultry feed. According to a note by the Department of Consumer Affairs, shipments of soymeal have to be imported before September 30, 2022.

In August 2021, as an exception due to domestic supply constraint, the government had allowed import of 1.2 mt of GM soymeal to help the poultry industry tide over higher feed prices. But only around 0.6 mt could be imported due to time constraints. Soymeal is mostly imported from Argentina.

The poultry industry had asked the government to allow last year’s balance of 0.6 mt of soybean meal this year. Earlier in the week, Soybean Processor Association of India (SOPA) said that import of soymeal would be ‘counter- productive’ and would pull down domestic price of soyabean.

Currently soybean prices, are ruling at around Rs 6,800 a quintal against a minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 3,950 a quintal.

In a communication to Atul Chaturvedi, secretary, ministry of animal husbandry, SOPA has stated that at the end of the current season that ends in September 2022, the country will have a carry-forward stock of 2 mt of uncrushed soybean before new kharif crops arrives.

“There is no justification for import of soybean meal as domestic higher prices of soybean and soybean meal is a reality,” the communication by SOPA has stated.

Out of the total production of soybean in the country, 81% is used as soymeal while 18% is extracted as oil and the rest is considered processing losses. Currently the domestic prices of soymeal is around Rs 68,000 a tonne, while imported prices at present is around Rs 58,000 a tonne, which includes 16% import duties.

The ministry of agriculture has estimated the country’s soybean production in the 2021-22 crop year (July-June) at 13.12 mt, while according to SOPA’s estimate the output is around 11.88 mt. Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan contribute more than 90% of India’s soybean production.

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