Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh calls for hike in import duty on edible oils
Agriculture minister has urged the finance ministry to increase the import duty on both crude and refined edible oils to stem the flow of cheap imports.
The domestic refining industry has been lobbying hard for the increase in duty. “We have sent the proposal to increase import duty on refined and crude edible oil to the revenue department under the finance ministry, looking at farmers’ interest,” said an agriculture ministry official, who did not wish to be identified.
The official said that area under oilseeds — groundnut, soyabean, sesamum, castor and sunflower — had grown to over 17 million hectares and the government expected the acreage to increase by another 1 million hectares till August end. “Global prices are down and with an increase in planting in the domestic market, prices can further fall,” he said.
India depends on imports for as much as 70% of its annual consumption of edible oil of 19.5 million litres. As per the fourth estimate on food production, oilseed production fell 18.5% to 26.68 million tonnes in 2014-15, compared to the previous year.
To support farmers, the government had earlier increased the import duty on refined and crude edible oils to 15% from 10% and 7.5% from 2.5% in December 2014.