After onions, cooking oil gets costlier

New Delhi (IANS) After onion and garlic, prices of edible oil have registered a sharp rise due to costlier imports.

Consumers will have to dig deeper into their pockets as the cooking oil prices may rise further, say oil industry experts.

Palm oil prices have shot up by Rs 20 a litre (more than 35 per cent) in the last two months. Palm oil's meteoric rally has led to a sharp rise in the prices of other edible oils.

"The prices of all edible oils have increased following the rise in palm oil over the last two months. Due to costlier imports from Malaysia and Indonesia, edible oil prices are likely to see a further increase," Oil-oilseed market expert Salil Jain told IANS.

Another oil industry expert suggested that farmers should be provided better prices for their crops if the country wants to become self-sufficient in edible oils.

"The prices of edible oils are increasing in India due to expensive imports from the international market. However, farmers are now getting a higher price of oilseeds, which will encourage them to cultivate oilseeds," said B.V. Mehta, Executive Director of Solvent Extractors Association of India.

India is the world's largest edible oil importer, meeting most of its edible oil needs through imports.

It is expected that the country's dependence on edible oil imports will increase further as heavy rains damaged soybean crops and a lower than expected Rabi oilseed cultivation this year.

Moreover, an increase in export duty on soy oil from Argentina will increase the cost of soy oil imports in India, which may lead to a further rise in prices of cooking oil.

Argentina has increased the export duty on soy oil from 25 per cent to 30 per cent. On the other hand, domestic consumption of palm oil will increase in both countries after the introduction of B-20 bio-diesel programme in Malaysia next year and B-30 bio-diesel programme in Indonesia.

CPO's December contract on Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX) fell by Rs 543.2 per 10 kg on September 24, while on Friday the CPO price jumped by Rs 744 per 10 grams. The CPO price rose by 37 per cent in about two months.

According to Solvent Extractors data, the import of vegetable oil (edible and non-edible) oils into the country was 11,27,220 tonne in November this year as compared to 11,33,893 tonne in the same month a year ago.

The CPO (crude palm oil) price at Kandla Port was $757 per tonne (CIF) on Friday, while RBD Palmolein imported from Malaysia was priced at $782 per tonne, soy price at $878 per tonne and sunflower crude at $847 per tonne.

According to the sowing data released by the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare last week, the area under oilseeds crops has been 68.24 lakh hectares this year, which is 2.47 lakh hectares less than last year.

The production of soybean, the major oilseed crop in the last Kharif season, is estimated to be down by about 18 per cent in the country as compared to last year.

According to the Soybean Processors Association of India (SOPA) estimates, soybean production in the country this year is 89.94 lakh tonnes, which is 71.73 per cent less than the previous year's production of 109.33 lakh tonnes.

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