New Delhi: Eight to 10 Indian states are considering combined imports of 70,000-80,000 tonnes of edible oils per month to implement various food schemes for the poor, a government official said on Wednesday.
The Union government has in recent weeks cut import duties on edible oils to increase local supplies and tame inflation that hit a three-year high in late March.
The purchases are likely to be made through four state-run firms—State Trading Corp. of India Ltd, MMTC Ltd, PEC Ltd and National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (Nafed).
Free flow: The Union government recently cut import duties on edible oils to increase local supplies and to check rising inflation.
The purchases might begin in the next month or two, once payment procedures are finalized.
“The states have to confirm their mode of payments, whether it will be through a Letter of Credit or advance payment. Then the purchases will start,” the official said.
He said the imports were likely to last for at least five to six months. That translates to purchases of 350,000-480,000 tonnes.
Gujarat plans to import 20,000 tonnes of edible oil and get an additional 30,000 tonnes of imported oils from the Union government, a senior official in the state said.
“The oil will start coming from May,” he said.
Officials in New Delhi say imports will be used by state governments to distribute subsidised edible oil to the poor.
Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said this month the government had asked state-run firms to import 1 million tonnes of edible oils to improve supplies.
India, the world’s biggest buyer of vegetable oils after China, imported 421,686 tonnes of the commodity in March, almost one-third more than a year earlier, according to a leading trade body.