Interviews

Soya has tremendous health benefits

The Soybean Processors Association of India, fondly called SOPA, is the national apex body of soybean

processors, exporters, tradeintermediaries, facilitators and farmers.

Atpresent, the Association has 340 members including 115 solvent extraction plants. SOPA also works directly with the farmers to help themimprove productivity. Lately there has been keeninterest in the Soybean cultivation and a lot offarmers globally are surrendering the lands to soybean, drawing good returns. The Executive Director SOPA, Mr. D N Pathak in the following excerpts, tells about the state of Soybean industry in the country and the world.

What is the status of Soybean processingindustry in the country as of now ?

Soybean cultivation started in India in 1971 withan area of mere 32318 hectares and a productionof 13728 tonnes with an average yield of only 426kilos per hectare. The growth in area was very fastand by 1979, the area under soybean was 496000hectares and production of 283000 tonnes.

Thearea under soybean has been growing steadily andstood at 101.5 Lakh hectares in Kharif 2017. The

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industry increased its processing capacity overthe years and new plants were installed. However,the production could not keep pace with theinstalled capacity and there were several otherfactors which changed the industry’s fortunesover the years. The global production of soybeangrew from 220 Million tonnes in 2005-06 to 336.7Million metric tonnes in 2017-18, creating anoversupply and fall in prices of soybean and itsproducts. Cheap imports of edible oils added tothe already suffering industry’s woes and manyplants had to close down, as Indian soybean meallost its export market to competition because of our high prices.

Some facts about current status of the industryare given below :

Area under Soybean Cultivation (Kharif 2017)                                 ~ 101.5 Lac Ha.

Farmers growing Soybean                                                                          ~ 55 Lac

Production of Soybean (MP=50%, MS=35%, Raj=9%)                 ~ 83.5 Lac Tons

Solvent Extraction units                                                                              ~ 225 +

Refineries                                                                                           ~ 500 +

Employment                                                                                     ~ 12 Lac

Industry turnover                                                                                          ~ Rs. 40,000 Crore

Export Earning                                                                                                ~ Rs. 15,450 Crore +

Investment                                                                                        ~ Rs. 33,000 Crore (US$ 6 Billion)

 

How as an institution is SOPA engagedwith the farmers ?

Our engagement with farmers includes seedmultiplication, farmers service centre for inputsupply, agriculture extension including trainingprogrammes, front line demonstrations, telecastof educational films and distribution of literatureon production technology. As a part of serviceto the farmers, SOPA does sample testing,seed germination and purity testing, soybeanand soybean meal testing in its well equippedlaboratory. Two demonstration farms are used togive on-the-spot training to the farmers in cropproduction technology.

Are there any differences in the processingtechnology of Soybean oil in India andabroad ?

Soybean crushing is done through solventextraction process and the technology usedall over the world is same. However, Indiansolvent extraction plants are relatively smaller ascompared to US, Brazil and Argentina. Plant sizein India ranges from 400 TPD to 1000 TPD asagainst plants as large as 20000 TPD there.

Other than oil, what are the possibilities ofalternative products from Soybean?

There are huge possibilities of producing valueadded products from soybean for food, industrialnutraceutical and pharma uses. Currently, onlyabout 10% of soybean crushed in India is usedfor value added products. Food use of soybeanhas tremendous potential as soybean is the mosteconomical source of high quality protein and canbe used to address the rampant mal-nutrition inIndia. The government should create awarenessamong the masses about the good qualities ofsoybean food by a media campaign which willcreate demand for soy value added food productsand help the industry and the farmers.

How is the soybean industry performingpresently ?

What are the challengesassociated with this sector ?

The soy sector faces many challenges such aslow productivity of soybean resulting into lowproduction which results in very low capacityutilisation of the plants. Indian soy productivityis only around 1000 Kg per hectare as comparedto an average of 3000 kg per hectare in the world.

This low productivity results in high price ofsoybean and soybean meal. In a normal monsoonyear, India would produce 10-11 million tonsof soybean meal making it necessary to exportsoybean meal because the local demand of meal isonly around 5 to 5.5 million tons and the surplusmust be exported. However, we are outpriced inthe world market due to high soybean mealprice.

Global and National production and consumptionof Soya Oil (in Million MT).

Sectors like animal husbandry aredependent on Soybean as feed. How do yousee the potential ?

The soy processing industry is largely dependenton feed industry, mainly poultry and aqua feedbecause the soybean meal produced from soyprocessing is the raw material for feed industry.

The current demand of soybean meal for poultryand aqua feed is around 5 million tons and animal

feed industry does not use soybean meal becauseof its higher price than other de-oiled cakes and

the perception that soybean meal may not be agreat advantage for use in animal feed.

Is there any difference in the quality ofoil, produced by processing the Organic orChemically treated soyabean ?

The organic farming of soybean is very smallfor several reasons such as low productivity,little perceived advantage for the farmers whohave to grow only organic products in the farmthroughout the year. It is suspected that a lotof so-called organic soybean grown in India isnot really organic. Most of the soybean grownin India uses chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

However, there is no adverse effect on oil qualityfrom normally grown soybean as the use ofchemicals is very small and within the tolerancelimits.

GM soybean is being produced in manynations, what are your views on theintroduction of same in India?

We believe that any technology which results inhigher productivity or helps the farmers in anyway should be adopted. However, the currentclamour for use of GM Soybean cultivation isbased more on a sentimental perception thatit will increase yields rather than a fact. Thecurrently available herbicide tolerant GM seedsdo not result in yield increase per se, not in theIndian conditions where the farm size is toosmall. It is an established fact that the yieldpotential of Non-GM soybean varieties grownin India is around 3 tons per hectare and the lowproductivity is namely because of bad seed andother inputs quality, poor farming techniques andlack of training. Unless these issues are addressed,mere use of HT GM Seeds is not likely to help.

The example of US, Brazil and Argentina is notrelevant as the minimum farm size there is overtwo thousand hectares as compared to less thanone hectare in India.

Import and Export status of the Soybean oil andother products ? What are the issues related toexport?

India is highly dependent on import of edibleoil. Therefore, the question of export of soybeanoil does not arise. However, we used to exportmore than 4 million tons of soybean meal till2012-13 and the export market was gradually lostto almost 10% in the next three years because ofour higher prices. There has been some revival ofsoybean meal exports in 2016-17 and we hope toregain our export market, thanks to the increase inexport incentive on soybean meal.

India is the lone country in the world which hasthe USP of producing Non-GM soybean only.

There is a big demand for Non-GM soybeanmeal in the developed world particularly Europeand Japan. However, we have not adequatelymarketed this USP and we have requested thegovernment to start a market campaign for brandIndia Non-GM soybean meal. Logistic cost suchas high rail and road freight, port charges, nonavailabilityof railway rakes are some of the issuesbeing faced by the soybean meal exporters.While GM Soya is yet not introduced in India,Soya Oil is imported from other nations,

How dowe check the quality of the imported soya oil?

The government has specifically permitted importof soybean oil produced from GM Soybeans.

There is no check or comparison of the importedsoy oil with indigenous oil. To our knowledge, no

complaints have been received about quality ofimported soybean oil.

It has been said, that soybean is comprised ofcomplex protein,how does it benefit humanhealth ?

Protein comprises of several amino acids andsoybean protein is known to have the bestcombination of various amino acids. It is themost economical source of vegetable protein ofhighest quality. Regular intake of soybean proteinhas tremendous benefits on human health.


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