The sowing area under soybean, the largest edible oilseed in the country, may rise 8-10 per cent in the ensuing kharif season due to increased confidence of farmers gained from better realisation last year. Overall soybean sowing may set a record at 10.26 million hectares (ha) this year, compared to 9.33 million ha last year.
Rajesh Agrawal, spokesperson of the Indore-based Soybean Processors’ Association, forecasts acreage to remain high as farmers in major growing regions — Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh — are keen to bring additional area under the oilseed. The scenario in Madhya Pradesh is also set to remain positive, albeit marginally. Madhya Pradesh is the largest grower of soybean in the country.
The increase would translate into proportionate growth in output, thereby, providing relief to the domestic crushing industry. Oilseed crushing mills have been operating at lower than capacity levels for the past few years due to negative parity. Apparently, higher production of oilseeds like soybean will intensify crushing in domestic markets. As a consequence, the output of soybean oil will increase, reducing reliance on imports. India imports 55-60 per cent of its vegetable oils, largely palm oil, for blending with soybean, sunflower and other oils, from major world producers, such as Indonesia, Argentina and Malaysia. Total soybean output was recorded at 10.5 million tonnes last year.
B V Mehta, executive director of Mumbai-based Solvent Extractors Association, said, “Farmers received good returns last year, which will definitely lure them to bring additional area under soybean.” Soybean price for near-month delivery on the National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange rose 43 per cent in the past year from Rs 2,444 a quintal to the current Rs 3,506 a quintal.
Soybean is sown with the onset of monsoon in June till July. The harvesting starts in October and continues till December.