Self-sufficiency in edible oil can help country save $2.5bn yearly

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Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders on Sunday asked the government to promote edible oil sector to save import bill and empower farmers who are at the mercy of middlemen.

Self-sufficiency in the edible oil production can help the country save 2.5 billion dollars annually, which need some steps, said Patron Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders Shahid Rasheed Butt in a statement.

Until 1960, Pakistan was self-reliant in edible oil production after which imports started due to the exploitation of farmers and lack of interest on the part of authorities, he added. Butt said that farmers of different oilseeds were at the mercy of middlemen which was the biggest reason behind reduced production and increasing imports.

The government should take steps to increase the size of land under cultivation, announce support price and incentives, introduce latest varieties of seed and give preference to the coastal belt of Sindh and Balochistan for cultivation.

He called for enhanced research and development, subsidy on inputs, interest-free loans, a gradual increase in duty on imports, employing better technology, improving the capacity of grinding mills and empowering concerned institutions. Butt said that primitive grinding process resulted in wastage of two lac tonnes of cotton seed while 30,000 tonnes could be extracted from rice bran which is yet to gain proper attention.

Pakistan’s per capita consumption stands at 12-13 litres, which is increasing by three per cent annually which will increase import bill. Focus on local production, establishing new edible oil refineries and better functioning of the oilseed extraction industry can help improve the situation, create a million jobs and improve forex reserves.