India likely to harvest record 11.5 million tonnes rapeseed this year -industry body

March 20, 2023 10:38 AM MSK | By Reuters
Image source: Reuters

By Mayank Bhardwaj

JAIPUR, INDIA (Reuters) - Rapeseed output in India, the world's biggest importer of vegetable oils, is likely to rise 7.5% this year due to a record planting of the winter-sown oilseed, a leading trade body said on Monday.

Farmers are likely to harvest a record 11.5 million tonnes in the crop year to June 2023, the Solvent Extractors' Association of India (SEA) told a news conference in the north-western state of Rajasthan, producer of more than half of India's rapeseed.

Last year, the country produced 10.7 million tonnes of rapeseed, which has the highest oil content among India's nine main oilseeds.

"Rapeseed production would have been even higher, but unfavourable weather in January affected yields," said B.V. Mehta, executive director of the Mumbai-based industry body, releasing a field survey.

Although farmers planted rapeseed across a record area this year, frost and heat-wave hit crop yields.

Rapeseed planting touched an all-time high of 9.8 million hectares this year, 7.4% higher than the previous year. Based on the higher area, the government has forecast a record rapeseed production of 12.8 million tonnes.

Higher rapeseed output will help India cut back expensive imports of vegetable oil.

India meets more than 70% of its cooking oil demand through imports.

New Delhi buys tropical palm oil mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia and soft oils, such as soyoil, from Argentina and Brazil, to make up for a shortfall in soybean, rapeseed and peanut output.

The country also imports sunflower oil from Ukraine and Russia and canola oil from Canada.

India's consumption of vegetable oils, including palm oil and soyoil, has trebled over the last two decades as the population grew and incomes rose, while output swelled by less than a third.

In the fiscal year to March 31, 2022, New Delhi spent a record $18.99 billion to import vegetable oils, prompting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to voice concerns about India's rising vegetable oil import bill.

(Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Eileen Soreng)

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