Alarmed by the rising prices of edible oils, the Centre has decided to distribute free oilseed packets in a bid to boost domestic production.
The Union agriculture ministry is distributing packets of high-quality oilseeds to farmers in almost a third of the country’s districts for the kharif (summer crops) season beginning next month, Hindustan Times reported.
"The government is giving out nearly 8,00,000 soybean seed mini-kits and 74,000 groundnut mini-kits to farmers to raise production," an official told the newspaper.
The measure to spurt domestic production comes days after Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey held a meeting with states and industry stakeholders to discuss the reasons for the "abnormal rise" in local prices of edible oils.
As per the government data, the retail prices of edible oils have risen over 62 percent in over a year and is adding woes to consumers already reeling under the economic distress induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"First-of-its-kind meeting (was) held to discuss ways and means to address the issue of abnormal price increase of edible oil," an official statement said.
Besides Pandey, Union Agriculture and Consumer affairs Secretaries and senior officials from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu governments were present.
India's production of oilseeds is too little to provide for the domestic demand and is heavily dependent on imports. The country is one the largest importers of oilseed and edible oils in the world as about 60 percent of the domestic edible oil demand is met from imports.Also read: Centre discusses with stakeholders abnormal rise in edible oil prices, asks for steps to soften rates