Interview with Solvent Extractors Association of India

China stop importing oil and started importing oil seed to crush and meet its own demand of oil & meal. Similarly if India cannot improve the production, it have to start importing oilseeds: Pravin Lunkad, Solvent Extractor’s Association of India.

Mr. Parvin Lunkad and Dr. B.V. Mehta, Solvent Extractors’ Association of India

The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEAI), Premier Association of Vegetable Oil Industry & Oil Trade, fosters the development and growth of the solvent extraction industry in particular and vegetable oil industry at large in India. It has its presence in India since 1963 and today the association with 875 members is having an annual crushing / processing capacity of 30 million tonnes. Mr. Pravin Lunkad and Dr. B.V Mehta represented SEAI for Soy Partnership Forum. `Think Grain Think Feed’ caught up with them to know more about the SEAI and its objectives.

Please share the role and contribution of SEAI in growth and development of Indian oilseed industry.
Mr. Lunkad: SEAI is a broad based all India apex body of Solvent Extraction Industry which was formed in 1963. Present strength is over 875 members representing complete gamut of the vegetable oil industry that includes oil seed crushers, vegetable oil importers and refiners, oil meals exporters and service providers like exporters, surveyors, clearing & forwarding agents, brokers & dealers, and shipping agent, financial consultants etc.
What is this year’s outlook for oilseed production in India? Please share the present status of the oilseed industry – domestic production, shortfall, imports, and future trends etc.
Dr. Mehta: Since last 5 years, oil seed production in India is stagnant at 26-28 MT. Major factor contributing to present situation is poor remuneration to the farmer for his produce. This year with better monsoon as observed in June & July and hoping similar for August and September, we can expect better oil seed crop.
Last year ending October 2014, the country produced the lowest crop of oil seeds hence the imports for the present year may increase by 1.8-2.0 MT to 13.2-13.5 MT.
The oilseed production has been stagnant however, demand has been growing. If indigenous production does not go up significantly, our dependence on imports may even go up from present level of 60% to over 75% within next few years.
Overall exports of oilmeal during April-June 2015 were down at 441.548 tons compared to 625,805 tons during the same period in 2014. What are the factors that may have contributed to the same?
Dr. Mehta: The shipment of oilmeals might remain subdued owing to a lack of competitiveness. In recent times, India has lost its three major export markets. 1. Iran – was importing 1 MT due to advantage of sanction. With the withdrawal of the sanction, it started now buying oilmeals from other origins such as Argentina and Brazil. 2. Vietnam- 3 years back it was importing 1 MT soymeal from India and now they are importing soybean and crushing and 3. Japan- which has moved from non-GM soymeal to GM Soymeal.
India may soon rival China as influencer of global supply-demand of oilseed and oilmeal. Your comments.
Mr. Lunkad: 10 years ago, China stop importing oil and started importing oil seed to crush and meet its own demand of oil & meal. Similarly if we cannot improve the production to meet our own demand, we may have to start importing oilseeds. If this happen, which is likely, India too will follow like China and move from oil to oilseeds in years to come.
What are the issues faced by the Indian Oilseed industry today? What kind of policy reform do you want from government to address key challenges facing the Indian oilseed industry?
Mr. Lunkad: Major concern for the industry is shortage of oilseed in the country. It reflects policy paralysis in the Indian agriculture sector. Government has lost its focus on oilseed production & productivity. We have submitted action plan to government of India which includes following suggestions to curb the ongoing problems faced by oilseed industry:
a) Focus on increasing production and productivity
b) Weighted tax/duty deduction
c) Introduction of GM crop by initiating GM trials
d) Shift acreage from grains to rape-mustard in Punjab & Haryana
Could you please share the theme and the purpose of upcoming Global Rice Bran Oil Conference?
Dr. Mehta: International Association of Rice Bran Oil (IARBO) was formed 2 years back by India, China, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand to promote rice bran oil as healthy oil. 2nd edition of the conference will be hosted by SEAI in India at Mumbai on 7th & 8th August 2015 and expecting 400 delegates from India and Abroad to participate.
Rice bran oil potential in India is over 16.0 lakh tonnes, against this potential the actual exploitation is just 9.5 lakh tonnes. The production can be increased to 12.0 lakh tonnes in next three years and thereby can reduce the import of edible oil to some extent. Basic objective of the conference is to explore the opportunities on a common platform and promote rice bran oil in the World as a Health Oil.
What is the scope of GM technology in India? What is the future of GM Oilseeds in India?
Dr . Mehta: We are not importing GM oil seed but importing soybean oil and rapeseed oil which are derived from GM oilseed. Most of the advanced countries like USA, Argentina, Brazil have moved to grow Genetically Modified (GM) Soybean, which leads to higher productivity by about 20 to 25% from the conventional variety. India is producing 1000-1100 kg per hectare of soybean which is almost half of world average or one third of highest in the world.
GM crop may be one of the way to increase production in the country. Like BT cotton was introduced before few years only, which has doubled the cotton production in India. It is the high time to explore the possibility of introduction of GM Soybean crop (non terminator) in India to achieve higher production and productivity.
What were your main take-aways and impressions of the recently concluded Soy Partnership Forum 2015?
Dr. Mehta: The conference could bring all stake holders on one platform to discuss the various issues confronting the industry including lower production of soybean and productivity, supply -demand, future projections and also value added products from soybean. I compliment USSEC for organizing the Summit at the right time and place to overview entire gamut of soya industries.