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Government intends to limit edible oil imports by encouraging domestic sunflower production

As per the official, the area under cultivation of sunflowers decreased to 1.94 mh between 2005 and 2010. “At the moment, it is grown on only 0.2 mh, primarily in Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh,” the official explained. Sunflower was previously grown in Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh.

Shruti Kandwal
Sunflower cultivation in India
Sunflower cultivation in India

An agriculture ministry official said on Tuesday that the government is proposing measures to increase the area under sunflower cultivation in order to reduce reliance on edible oil imports.

Sunflower production, which used to be grown on 2.66 million hectares (mh) in 1993-94, will be revived through the supply of quality seeds, productivity enhancement through the introduction of technology, and promotion of processing and value addition.

As per the official, the area under cultivation of sunflowers decreased to 1.94 mh between 2005 and 2010. “At the moment, it is grown on only 0.2 mh, primarily in Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh,” the official explained. Sunflower was previously grown in Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh.

Officials from the Agriculture Ministry said there is room for expansion of sunflower cultivation in Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh.

Atul Chaturvedi, president of the Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEA) said, “This is what we have been telling the government all along, to promote cultivation of oilseeds within the country itself.”

According to him, the southern states once produced at least one million tons of sunflower seed.

Last month, Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar met with states, experts, and other stakeholders to discuss sunflower cultivation endorsement.

Currently, India generates approximately 45 percent of its domestic edible oil consumption. Other oils that attribute to domestic production include soyabean (24%) and groundnut (7%). Crude palm and Soyabean oil are primarily imported from Malaysia, Indonesia, Argentina and Brazil, accounting for 62% and 21% of total edible oil imports, respectively.

Because of the country’s high reliance on imports, edible oil imports are expected to be worth around Rs 1.5 trillion in 2021-22. Every year, India imports 13 million tone of edible oil.

Every year, India imports 13 million tone of edible oil. India relies on Ukraine for sunflower oil, which accounted for 15% of the edible oil import basket in 2021-21. Ukraine is the world’s largest exporter of sunflower oil, accounting for nearly 46% of global sunflower and sunflower oil production.  

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