Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has demanded immediate hike in import duty of edible oil to support farmers as the sowing of oilseeds is on while soybean prices are depressed to 6-year low.
In a letter to food minister Ram Vilas Paswan, Fadnavis said the Centre should immediately increase the import duty on crude edible oil to 35 per cent and on refined cooking oils to 50 per cent to motivate domestic farmers to plant oilseeds crops, sources said.
The import duty on crude palm oil and crude soft oil is 7.5 per cent and 12.5 per cent, respectively, while duty on refined palmolein is 15 per cent and 20 per cent on other refined oils. The consumer affairs ministry was in favour of reducing the duty on crude edible oils to make their import lucrative and discourage traders from buying refined varieties.
But the agriculture ministry has favoured an increase in import duty of both crude and refined varieties, the sources said.
Now the issue may come up for discussion on July 24 at an inter-ministerial panel headed by finance minister Arun Jaitley, sources said.
Fadnavis in his letter has said average price of soybean was Rs 3,810 per quintal in 2014, Rs 3,510 a quintal in 2015 and Rs 3,540 a quintal in 2016. But due to cheaper imports of palm oils, soybean rates have fallen to about Rs 2,700 a quintal. The average price was Rs 3,300 a quintal in 2012 and Rs 3,600 a quintal in 2013.
The Solvent Extractors' Association (SEA) had in a letter last month had sought rise in import duty on crude edible oil to 20 per cent and on refined oil to 35 per cent.