Local oilseed crushers want government to raise import duties on edible oils
The Dollar Business Bureau
The Indian government is under pressure from the local oilseed crushers to raise the import duties on edible oils after domestic oilseed prices slumped way below the government support levels.
Cheap edible oil imports from Malaysia, Brazil, Indonesia and Argentina are crushing the demand of local oilseeds like rapeseed and soybeans while farmers are struggling to compete with them. The prices of local oilseeds slumped to a new low, over the past 14 months due to bumper crop production.
Affluent oilseed farmers are pressurising the government to increase the import duties to encourage domestic oilseed cultivation for 2017-18.
Davish Jain, Chairman of the Soybean Processors Association while speaking to the press said, “It's high time to do it. The sowing has started and prices are below the support level. Some farmers have already decided to switch to crops that are fetching good returns in the market.”
India is the world’s biggest palm and soybean oil importer and relies on imports for almost 70% of its edible oils.
Indian farmers are demanding better prices and a relief from the debts incurred after the Centre and some State governments announced loan waivers that amounted to $10 billion for farmers.
Taking up the farmers’ cause, the Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEA), has petitioned the government to raise the duty on crude vegetable oils to 20% and on refined products to 35%, from 7.5% and 12.5% currently.
Trade officials say lower food price inflation in India will make it easier for the government to raise import duties, protecting farmers without hurting consumers.