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OILS AND FATS

India leading cotton producer, exporter, but hasn’t exploited potential
Wednesday, 20 December, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, Mumbai
Despite being the world’s top producer and exporter of cotton, India’s cottonseed processing sector has not been able to exploit the full potential in its entire cotton value chain. This was among the observations at the country’s maiden Cottonseed Oil Enclave, which was organised in Ahmedabad by the Solvent Extractors' Association (SEA) of India and All India Cotton Seed Crushers’ Association (AICOSCA) recently.

The conference was attended by over 275 delegates, including representatives of cottonseed processing industry, marketers, farmers and consumers. Bajoria, chairman AICOSCA, pledged to promote the use of cottonseed oil as a healthier option in household cooking options, while highlighting the good frying property of cottonseed oil.
 
Cotton is a wonder crop. In addition to around 60 lakh tonne of cotton fibre, it gives 125 lakh tonne of cottonseed, making it the highest-produced oilseed in India. The crushing of oilseeds gives around 14.5 lakh tonne of cottonseed oil annually and 100 lakh tonne of oilcake, fulfilling the demand of cattle feed industry.
 
However, barring Gujarat, the use of cottonseed oil in cooking is limited, leading to the diversion of the healthier oil into other applications, including blending with other edible oils. Due to the lack of awareness, the industry and farmers are deprived of the benefits of value addition.
 
Pasha Patel, chairman, Maharashtra Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices said the state was the second-largest producer of cotton, but unfortunately, the maximum number of suicides occurred among cotton farmers.

“If the farmers and the industry work together, it has a potential to raise the former’s incomes with the help of value addition across the cotton value chain,” he said, urging the latter to help them grow better-quality cotton and encouraging them to adopt the one village one crop pattern.
 
Industry veteran Suresh Kotak said, “Cottonseed oil needs to be promoted as a healthier oil, because it doesn’t contain trans-fat. Besides, it has many health-friendly properties, which have also been noted in the United States, where the use of cottonseed oil is on the rise and fetches a premium over other oils.”

Cottonseed oil has a lot of potential in raising the farmers’ incomes. Prime minister Narendra Modi has envisaged the doubling their incomes by 2022.
 
Recently, the Indian government had raised the import duty on edible oils made from sunflower, soybean and rapeseed oil. But, inadvertently, cottonseed oil was spared from the duty hike, posing the threat of imports in the coming months.

Atul Chaturvedi, president, SEA, urged the government to increase the import duty on cottonseed oil at par with other soft oils in order to protect domestic farmers from the fall in prices.
 
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