New Delhi: The country’s vegetable oil import rose marginally by 4% to 5.96 lakh tonnes in July, compared with 5.71 lakh tonnes in a year-ago period, the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) said on Thursday.
The erratic monsoon and dip in Kharif oilseeds crop may further push import during the festival months of September and October, it said in a statement.
In July, India, the world’s second largest consumer of edible oil, imported 5.57 lakh tonnes of edible oil and 38,601 tonnes of non-edible oil, according to SEA data.
Among edible oils, import of palm group of oils has a share of 75% at 4.15 lakh tonnes, while the shipment of soft oils including soyabean and sunflower were at 1.41 lakh tonnes in the review period, it said.
For the first time since 2001, India imported a parcel of about 5,000 tonnes of cottonseed oil in July, SEA said.
According to industry experts, vegetable oil imports in July were rather down as compared to May and June, due to congestion at ports. The shipment of fertiliser inputs were more frequent in July, the peak period for sowing of major Kharif crops.
Import of vegetable oil were significantly high in May and June at 7.51 lakh tonnes and 7.80 lakh tonnes respectively.
The erratic monsoon and a possible fall in Kharif oilseeds crop may further increase import in September and October, SEA noted.
Total vegetable oil imports may tough 80 lakh tonnes during 2008-09 edible oil year, it said.
The edible oil year runs from September to October.
“Drought-like conditions have spread further and are meanwhile affecting one third of the country. As on 6 August, groundnut acreage is worst affected. Oilseeds production will depend on how monsoon behaves in August and September,” the Association said.
It is feared that production of kharif crops will suffer a major setback this year as dryness has partly prevented plantings and will also curb the yield potential massively, it added.
“This is likely to lead to lower production of oilseeds and reduced domestic oil availability in the next oil year,” SEA said.