Mumbai: Farmers in India, the world’s second-biggest buyer of vegetable oil, expanded the area under oilseed cultivation this season to take advantage of record prices of cooking oil.
Farmers sowed 15.9 million hectares of monsoon oilseeds, including peanut and soybean, as of 9 August, compared with 14.9 million hectares last year, the farm ministry said in a statement in New Delhi on Friday.
A bigger harvest of oilseeds may reduce India’s need to import palm and soybean oils from countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Brazil and Argentina.
Palm oil prices, which reached a record in June, have averaged 51% higher since 1 January, compared with the year-ago period.
India, which imports almost half the vegetable oil it needs, has reduced import taxes four times this year to extend supplies and check prices.
Sowing of the monsoon crop, which makes up 60% of India’s total oilseed production, begins in June.