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Focused government policies can make India self-reliant in edible oils

IANS  |  New Delhi 

With the right kind of policy initiatives by the government, the country can not only become self-reliant in terms of production but even export some of its indigenous edible oils like mustard

The total production of edible in the country is about nine million metric tonnes (MT) while the domestic requirement is around 25 million MT.

The gap between demand and supply is being met through imports, which amounted to approximately Rs 68,000 crore in 2015-16. Palm currently contributes 70 per cent of vegetable imports and is one of the cheapest due to high productivity per hectare.

"needs to learn from countries like Malaysia and Italy, who have managed to sell their edible worldwide, which in return has contributed to their economy. What palm is for Malaysia, olive for Italy and soya for the US, mustard can indeed be for India," Vivek Puri, Managing Director of Puri Mills told IANS.

"Mustard has some unique properties that no other edible has," Puri added.

The Malaysian launched a full-scale development plan wherein the farmer became the focus, and the entire farming community was organised as cooperatives.

Every farmer undertaking palm cultivation is provided with technology and extension services and the entire farming activities are supervised by experts and agricultural scientists.

The Malaysian Palm Promotion Council has been very effective in promoting palm

In 2016, the export value of palm and palm-based products from Malaysia to was 3.13 million tonnes valued at around at $2 billion, said Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong, Minister for Plantation Industries & Commodities, at an event in Mumbai on September 14.

"With proper support, the area under mustard cultivation can be expanded significantly, vastly increasing the availability of mustard and bringing imports down.

In fact, mustard oil, which has been a traditional Indian for thousands of years, aligns perfectly with the government's 'Make in India' initiative," said Pragya Gupta, Senior Scientist with Mustard Research Promotion Consortium (MRPC), a New Delhi-based non-profit.

To meet the acute shortage of economical edible oil, the is promoting palm which has come under the lens of health experts for its high saturated fat content.

"Instead of promoting less healthy oils like palm oil, the National Mission on Oilseeds and Palm should actively support mustard and other indigenous edible oils, not just as an agricultural intervention but also as a public health measure," Gupta said.

According to a study published in the journal The BMJ late last year, consuming high amounts of saturated fatty acids -- found in red meat, dairy fat, butter, lard, and palm -- may increase risk of coronary heart disease.

Health experts also suggest that palm has higher saturated fat content than mustard Palm can, therefore, easily increase bad cholesterol and lead to risk of heart diseases whereas mustard contains about 60 per cent monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), 21 per cent polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) and about 12 per cent saturated fats that can help prevent heart diseases.

"Mustard contains a substance called glucosinolate which is known for its anti-carcinogenic properties. The phytonutrients provide protection against colorectal and gastrointestinal cancers," J. B. Sharma, Senior Consultant, Medical Oncology, Action Cancer Hospital, New Delhi told IANS.

"It also protects against breast cancer by reducing an enzyme activity within the breast, thereby decreases estrogen production," Neha Pathania, Senior Dietitian, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram, added.

(Vivek Singh Chauhan can be contacted at vivek.c@ians.in)

--IANS

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, October 16 2017. 20:26 IST
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