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Can Soya be the Next Egg for India? Sunday ho ya Monday Roj Khao Ande

Towards the Food Security and in view of the increase in the population in 2050, the alternate sources of the foods were researched and the nutritional value in the forms of the protein were seen comparing the soya and the eggs. The revolution in the agriculture was the topic of the Conference held in Indore, Madhya Pradesh.

Chander Mohan

Towards the Food Security and in view of the increase in the population in 2050, the alternate sources of the foods were researched and the nutritional value in the forms of the protein were seen comparing the soya and the eggs. The revolution in the agriculture was the topic of the Conference held in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. The Soybean Processors Association of India (SOPA), Executive Director, D N Pathak informed that the Research and Development around the Soya crop will be key to creating a domestic market for the crop. He further stressed that India needs to increase domestic consumption of the crop. “This is a protein-rich crop. Hence it can tackle malnutrition and protein deficiency in the country. The government should therefore be encouraging the use of a small portion of soya flour in wheat flour or any other type of combination to increase domestic production. There is a need to have more R&D around this crop.” Apart from usual consumption, there should be more options in soya product.

Vegans forgo the consumption of meat and meat derivatives, which leaves them looking for alternatives to meet their nutritional needs. Soya chunks are made from soy beans and they work well as meat substitutes. These come in the form of regular chunks, mini chunks and granules, and can be used in many ways. The nutritional value is similar to meat in some areas and different in others.

Protein is a macronutrient that the body needs in large amounts for cell repair, immune function and muscle growth. A 3.5-ounce serving of soya chunks contains over 54 grams of protein. This is more than the same serving size of meat and eggs. The recommended daily intake of protein is 56 grams for men and 46 grams for women. Meat alternatives that come from soy beans are complete proteins. This means they have all the essential amino acids present. Amino acids are the building blocks that create protein.

In Kharif season of 2017, the Soybean Processors Association of India (SOPA) estimated that soya production was at 42.001 million metric tonnes, in 2016 it stood at 55.068 million metric tonnes (MT) and in 2015 it stood at 34.124 million metric tonnes. In ten years (2007-2017), the highest production was in 2012 which stood at 64.861 million metric tonnes. This rise and fall was due to good monsoon and also increase in global production (which lead to a fall in prices and hence farmers decided to reduce production).

The past few years have been a roller-coaster ride for the soya crop in Madhya Pradesh. While the production of the crop went up and down, productivity of the crop remained more or less the same. All said and done, this dicey cash crop is known for its high nutritional value.

According to 2015 UNICEF data, malnutrition is more common in India than in Sub-Saharan Africa. Various studies suggest that protein energy malnutrition (PEM) is a major public health problem in India. Once this problem affects a child in his or her development period, it can lead to permanent impairment in later life.

Pathak added, “There is a need to develop more products so that more and more people can consume soya.” Around 60 percent of the population in India do not understand the need for soya, he added.

Citing the example of the Government Programme ‘Sunday ho ya Monday Roj Khao Ande’ run some years ago to promote the egg industry,  he said that just as that campaign boosted people’s awareness about eggs, a similar campaign needs to be run for soya as well. “I am not asking them to force people to consume soya but what I want them to do is to create awareness about the product through various media and publicity,” added Pathak. “The government is not exploring that option. We have gone to the health ministry and other ministries, to talk about it.”

Pathak pointed out that when the government increases minimum selling price (MSP) of raw material, then prices of the end product should also be controlled. “They have to ensure that oil prices are controlled and that is possible only by imposing higher duties on imports.”

make money from the cash crop but there was a slump in global market prices due to an increase in global production and high yields overseas. However, there were some miscalculations which resulted into excess of crushing capacity in the country. Today, there are around 250 lakh tonnes of crushing capacity which was built in India, to meet the demand of only 18 lakh tonnes of soya. “Around 60-70 crushing units were from MP and half of them are shut now. They are declared sick units.” Pathak added, “An excess capacity of crushing units has been created. Obviously, when there is something in excess, this had to happen

Pathak feels traditional facilities like crushing units might not be the right space for investment but R&D would be it. “If investors or companies want to invest in soya business, it would be an investment in protein, and it is likely to be a productive Endeavour. This investment would be more or less in technologies that could separate protein from soya.” There is no Indian company in that business. “There is a need to create a niche for soya products and that is where an investment opportunity exist.”

By developing the domestic market, Pathak believes that Indian farmers can reduce dependency on exports. Apart from products like soya milk, tofu, soya bean etc, the crop can be used for extracting cooking oil. India is a large consumer of edible oil and it imports more than 65 per cent of its total oil requirement. As per data of 2015, India imports more than 12,000,000 MT of edible oils which is valued at around Rs 60,000 crore. At one point of time, India was mostly self-sufficient in oil—during the 1990s—and it was also the largest producer of oilseeds in the world. Post WTO implementation in 1996-97 which liberalized edible oil imports, the industry went from 91 percent self-sufficiency to 65 percent import dependence in just two decades. In recent times, the government increased duty on imported soya oil to 30 percent, after a series of incidents like death of farmers and massive protests.

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