September 29, 2008


India's summer oilseed output seen at 17.55 million tonnes; winter oilseed up at 10 percent



India's summer-sown oilseed production in 2008 is estimated at 17.55 million tonnes, compared with 16.89 million tonnes last year, a senior official of the Central Organisation for Oil Industry and Trade said Friday (September 26).


This is the initial estimate for the crop by the oil industry body.


"Although groundnut and sunflower production in the Kharif (summer-sown crop season) is likely to be lower this year, the shortfall will be made up by soy production," said D.S. Sridhara, president of the oil industry body.


Groundnut production in the summer planting season is estimated at 4.9 million tonnes, compared with 5.3 million tonnes last year. The area cultivated in groundnut has declined about 200,000 hectares during summer planting this year to 5.17 million hectares.


The country imports almost half of its annual vegetable oil requirement of 12 million tonnes. It buys soyoil from Argentina and Brazil and palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia.


India's soy production during the summer-sown season is expected to set a record of 10.7 million tonnes, up from 9.46 million tonnes last year, Sridhara said.


"The higher production estimate is because of increase in area under cultivation and improved yields of around 850 kilograms to 1,000 kilograms per hectare," Sridhara said.


Unlike most other oilseed crops, the area under soy crop has increased during the summer plantings to 9.56 million hectares from 8.75 million hectares a year earlier.


Sridhara expressed concern about the decline in prices of oilseeds and edible oils in local markets, which resulted from a series of government measures, and said it may have an impact on the winter-sown oilseed crop.


"We are going to approach the government to remove restrictions on stock limits and (to resume) futures trading in soyoil," Sridhara said.


Earlier in the year, Indian government imposed limits on stocks traders could hold and also suspended futures trading in soyoil to control rising prices of commodities.


He said the ban on edible oil exports should be lifted and imports under the public distribution system by government-run agencies should be stopped in order to ensure that farmers receive good prices for their crops, Sridhara said.


Sunflower production is pegged at 350,000 tonnes, down from 530,000 tonnes last year, he said.


"Unfavourable pricing of sunflower oil led to the decline in production this year with major falls in areas in Karnataka," he said.


However, sunflower production in Karnataka could improve in the forthcoming winter planting season due to late rains.


India's area under the winter rapeseed crop, the sowing of which will start next month, is likely to rise 10 percent from 6 million hectares last year, a senior industry executive said Friday.


"There is likely to be an increase in the sowing of rapeseed this year because of good late rains in the major producing states of Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh," Govindlal Patel, managing partner of Dipak Enterprise and industry expert, said.


The weather in the next few weeks will be the key for planting of the crop.

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