Government’s 100-Day Agenda Focuses on Reducing Pulse and Edible Oil Imports, Boosting Ethanol Supply

The Indian government is planning a 100-day agenda to focus on reducing imports of pulses and edible oil, increasing ethanol supply, and stabilizing food prices. This plan involves introducing stringent policy measures similar to those taken in the past one-and-a-half years.

The agriculture ministry is drafting a new scheme to achieve self-sufficiency in pulses by 2027. This scheme aims to cut down on the government’s huge outgo on importing pulses and edible oil, thereby boosting domestic supply. In the 2023-24 financial year, India’s import bill was $854.8 billion, while agricultural exports touched $48.9 billion. Despite a decline in agricultural imports due to a dip in edible oils imports, pulse imports hit a six-year high.

A senior official stated that the 100-day agenda will focus on oilseeds, pulses, and biofuel, along with the welfare of 140 million farmers. The major focus will be on reducing the import bill and stabilizing the prices of agricultural commodities. The government aims to achieve self-sufficiency in pulses in the coming 3-4 years and is open to all kinds of support, similar to the support provided for oilseeds.

A new program focusing on development is being prepared to promote pulses production in a big way and is expected to come out in the next few days. The official added that they are working on Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) and will take the program forward depending on budgetary allocation.

India is a net importer of edible oils, with 57% of the total bought from various countries, notably Indonesia and Malaysia. This is negatively impacting India’s foreign exchange by $20.56 billion.

To address this issue, the government launched the National Mission for Edible Oils-Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) in 2021 to increase oil palm cultivation and boost crude palm oil production to 1.1 million tonnes by 2025-26. Similarly, the government has been taking measures to make the country self-sufficient in the production of pulses and is implementing the National Food Security Mission (NFSM)-Pulses.

In January, cooperation minister Amit Shah said Indian farmers produced 19 million tonnes of pulses in 2013-14, which rose to 26 million tonnes in 2022-23. However, he emphasized the need to continue striving for progress and create a system where India can stop importing pulses and start exporting them by 2027.

India relies on imports to meet its domestic demand of about 28 million tonnes for three types of pulses—tur (pigeon pea), urad (black gram), and masur (lentil), primarily from purchases from Australia, Canada, Russia, Myanmar, Mozambique, Tanzania, Sudan, and Malawi. Despite some improvement since 2011, the gap between demand and supply of pulses is widening, necessitating annual imports of 2.5-3 mt of pulses in the past few years.

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