Centre plans to up oilseed area by a quarter

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Last year, oilseeds were sown in 20.82 million hectares during the kharif season and 8 million hectares in the rabi (winter) season.

Ahead of kharif sowing of crops to begin from June 1, the Centre has set a target to bring an additional 6.37 lakh hectare under oilseeds cultivation this season itself and rolled out a long-term plan to make the country self-sufficient in edible oils.

Last year, oilseeds were sown in 20.82 million hectares during the kharif season and 8 million hectares in the rabi (winter) season.

“Under a multi-pronged strategy, the government has approved an ambitious plan for the free distribution of high yielding varieties of seeds to the farmers for this kharif season in the form of mini-kits,” the agriculture ministry said in a statement. From bringing additional area under oilseeds, the country’s oilseeds production may go up by 1.2 million tonne (MT), enough to generate 2,44,000 tonne of edible oils through domestic processing.

Though production of oilseeds has gone up in the past few years, it is highly inadequate to reduce India’s annual edible oil import bill of Rs 75,000 crore. Oilseeds output has increased to 37.31 MT in 2020-21 from 27.51 MT in 2014-15 to 37.31 MT in 2020-21, while the area has gone up to 28.82 million hectares from 25.99 million hectares during this period. The overall yield has increased to 1295 kg/hectare from 1075 kg/hectare.

The special plan for the ensuing season was discussed in detail with the states during the kharif conference held on April 30. Both area and productivity enhancement have been formulated for soybean and groundnut with a focus on high yielding varieties of seeds to be provided free of cost under the “National Food Security Mission” and “Oil Seeds and Oil Palm Mission”.

Soybean seeds worth Rs 76.03 crore will be distributed in 41 districts of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Telangana and Chhattisgarh with a target to cover 1,47,500 hectares under intercropping. Further, 73 high potential districts in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat have been identified costing Rs 104 crore and 3,90,000 hectares.

Besides, in the existing soybean growing areas of 10 lakh hectares spread over 90 districts of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Telangana Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, UP and Bihar 8.16 lakh mini kits (free seeds) worth Rs 40 crore will be distributed to increase yield. The soybean seeds to be distributed will be having a yield of not less than 20 quintals per hectare, the government said. The distribution of seeds for intercropping and high potential districts will be through the state seed agencies and the seeds under the mini-kits will be through the Central seed producing agencies.

The Centre has also approved the distribution of 74,000 groundnut seed mini kits, having not less than 22 quintals/hectare yield, in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu with a budget of Rs 13 crore.

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