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Edible oil manufactures’ body seeks introduction of GM oilseed crops

SEA has also asked for a diversion of the area under wheat cultivation in northern India for the cultivation of the mustard crop. This, would help in replenishing the water table and also help in the diversification of crops in the states of Punjab and Haryana.

Written by Parthasarathi Biswas | Pune |
Updated: December 17, 2021 7:13:27 am
The introduction of other GM crops has been a long-standing demand from various farm bodies, but the government has not allowed field trials of any such crop. (Representational/File)

THE SOLVENT and Extractors Association of India (SEA), the apex body of edible oil manufactures, importers and processors in the country, has requested the Centre for introduction of genetically modified oilseed crops in the country. In their pre-budget consultation with the Centre, the organisation also batted for shifting of grains to oilseeds in north India.

Currently, cotton is the only GM crop allowed for cultivation in the country. The introduction of other GM crops has been a long-standing demand from various farm bodies, but the government has not allowed field trials of any such crop.

Atul Chaturvedi, president of SEA, said that the per-acre yield of soyabean in the country is low at 800-1,000 tonnes per hectare. Whereas GM soyabean offers yield as high as 3-4 tonnes per hectare, he added.

“Even if, the government continues increasing the Minimum Support Price (MSP) on a year-on-year basis, it will not translate into great gains for farmers. Technology would help in increasing farmers’ yields and thus increase their income,” Chaturvedi said.

Opposition technology is not scientific as the country has been consuming cottonseed oil for some years now, the SEA president said. Also, the livestock industry has been using cotton seed cake as a protein supplement for years. “Without better technology, India would not be able to be self-reliant in oil seeds ever,” he said.

SEA has also asked for a diversion of the area under wheat cultivation in northern India for the cultivation of the mustard crop. This, would help in replenishing the water table and also help in the diversification of crops in the states of Punjab and Haryana.

“Between Punjab and Haryana, around 60 lakh hectares of land is earmarked for wheat cultivation. Assuming we can shift 50 per cent of the available land for cultivating mustard in the next two to three years, through better incentives for shifting, the additionally available crop would be 60 lakh tonnes of mustard, which translates into an additional 25 lakh tonnes of additional oil,” the body added.

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