Union minister Nitin Gadkari today said the government will carry out a study to find ways to curb the present large-scale import of cheap edible oils and ensure better prices to domestic oilseed farmers. After attending a programme organised by the Soybean Processors Association of India, Gadkari told reporters, "At present we are importing about 70 per cent of the edible oil consumed in the country. The import of cheap edible oils has been increasing continuously.
Due to this, farmers are not getting the right price for oilseeds and the domestic processing industry is also suffering. "The policy of our government is that consumers should get edible oils at the right price, while interests of oilseed-producing farmers should also be protected. So the government will carry out a study on how much the import duty on edible oils should be increased so that farmers get a price higher than the minimum support price (MSP)," he said. Farmers were forced to sell their soybean crop below the MSP due to declining prices in the last Kharif season, so most soybean-growing farmers sowed pulses such as tur (arhar), moong and urad in the current Kharif hoping for better prices," Gadkari noted. New varieties of seeds should be developed and special research should be conducted with the aim of increasing per-hectare soybean production, he said. The soybean processing industry should find ways to make nutritional food items from soy 'khali' (byproduct of oil-making process) which is full of protein, he said. Such food can be especially useful in tribal areas where malnutrition is rampant, he said.
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