ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Rabi Crop to the Rescue

Rabi Crop to the Rescue D P Sharma THE performance of the oilseeds sector of the economy during the current season so far can be described as fairly satisfactory both in regard to the availability of edible oils at prices which could be termed as reasonable, especially when viewed in the context of the general inflationary environment, and the contribution to the nation's precious foreign exchange pool. The current season is half way through and the market is not experiencing any shortage of supplies. During the past four months edible oil prices which have had their usual ups and downs have not moved beyond their earlier highs which reflected largely the impact of the partial failure of the kharif groundnut crop in Saurashtra. Some oils registered their highs about the beginning of November and others in early January. Prices have come down from their highs by 5 to 19 per cent, varying with the oil. While the ruling prices (May 2) are 4 to 8 per cent nig her than a year ages the increase is much smaller when compared with the increase in the official wholesale prices index on a point-to-point basis. (For details see the accompanying table.) Viewed in the light of the supply-demand gap officially reckoned at over 7 lakh tonnes, the relative stability in edible oil prices is significant, It is attributable partly to improved indigenous availability in the wake of record rabi oilseeds production and consumer resistance at higher levels. Intra- seasonal fluctuations in edible oil prices have tended to narrow down following the increase in the share of rabi oilseeds (mostly edible) in the aggregate supply. Going by the estimates put up at the 13th all-India seminar on rabi oilseeds held at Jaipur on March 29, rabi oilseeds production this season has been reckoned at a record 108 lakh tonnes, .12.5 per cent up over the previous season's estimate of 96 lakh tonnes The crop-wise figures in lakh tonnes with previous season's figures in bracket ait: mustard/rapeseed/toria 66 (60.5), groundnut in shell 25.5 (22.5). sunflower 7 (4), sesame 2 (2), safflower 4 (3 5) and linseed 3.5 (3.5). Including kharif production of 87 lakh tonnes (94 lakh tonnes) the total production of nine cultivated oilseeds comes to 195 lakh tonnes against 190 lakh tonnes in 1990-91. Officially, however, oilseeds production in 1990-91 has been finally placed at 184.64 lakh tonnes, With imports of edible oils restricted to less than two lakh tonnes and quantities routed through the public distribution system grossly inadequate, consumers would not have experienced even a modicum of relief if production of rabi oilseeds

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