New Delhi: The idea mooted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to consider creating a buffer stock of edible oil in the country as done in the case of foodgrains is feasible for a limited period, experts and scientists said.
On an average, edible oil can be stored for a maximum of eight months depending upon the storage conditions but not beyond that, they added. “Factors such as type of oil—crude, partially or fully refined and impurities are vital for stocking the commodity as edible oil is susceptible to deterioration owing to its rich fatty acid,” R.B.N. Prasad, head of Lipid Science and Technology of Hyderabad-based Indian Institute of Chemical Technology said.
Oils get oxidised when stored for longer duration and quality is affected, he said, adding all these should be considered when storing the edible oil for a longer period.
Prasad also said the oxidised oils can cause arterial damage, inflammation and degenerative diseases.
On 19 December, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said at the that National Development Council meeting, “We probably need to enhance our buffer stocks of foodgrain, also consider buffer stocks of pulses and edible oils.”
The cabinet committee on prices has also asked the food ministry to prepare a “strategy paper” on import of edible oil and also ways to create a buffer stock of the same. India consumes around 12.5 million tonnes (mt) of edible oils annually, but the production is estimated to be just 7.24mt.
In November, total imports of edible oil rose by 38% to 347,320 tonnes, compared with 252,242 tonnes in the year-ago period, according to data available with Mumbai-based Solvent Extractors Association of India.