India is a country with large unrealised potential, according to several leading industry figures who spoke at the OFI India 2016 business conference, held on 13-14 April at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre.

Attracting over 600 attendees, the first OFI India show received a very positive response from those who attended it.

Dr B V Mehta, Executive Director of The Solvent Extractors' Association of India (SEA), said, "The papers presented by renowned speakers were excellent and very useful".

The OFI India show also included an exhibition with over 30 exhibitors, and a parallel Smart Short Course.

Mr D N Pathak, executive director of the Soybean Processors Association of India (SOPA), spoke on how India’s average soyabean productivity was the lowest in the world, at only a third of the world average.

The country was also the only country which did not grow GM soyabeans but had failed to capitalise on its non-GM status.

“India normally produces only a little over 3% of the world’s soyabeans and in 2015, our production fell to only 7.4M tonnes due to an erratic monsoon.”

He said the major reasons for low productivity, other than weather and low farm sizes, were the non availability of quality inputs at the right time and right price; poor agriculture extension and adoption of technology; and lack of coordination between various agencies.

Sushil Goenka, director of India’s 3F Industries, spoke on how only 0.2Mha of the total 1.93Mha potential area identified for oil palm cultivation had been planted.

Domestic crude palm oil (CPO) production had grown from 60,000 tonnes in 2009/10 to 200,000 tonnes in 2014/15.

India’s total vegetable oil consumption stood at 21.8M tonnes in 2014/15, against domestic availability of 7.19M tonnes and imported oil consumption of 14.61M tonnes.

David Jackson, director of oils and oilseeds research at LMC International, UK, spoke on how major rapeseed producers in the EU and Canada had responded to steep price rises up to 2012 by expanding their rapeseed areas, and questioned why Indian farmers had not responded in the same way.

While G Chandrashekar, economic advisor to the Indian Merchants Chamber, focused on how India is the world’s largest producer, processor and exporter of castor oil, accounting for over 80% of the global market.

In 2015/16, the country is expected to export 465,000 tonnes of castor oil but he said Indian exporters were “throwing away this precious raw material at ridiculously low prices”.

The growth and importance of India in the global oils and fats market cannot be ignored, however.

Sumit Gupta, business manager of McDonald & Pelz Global Commodities, said that India will become the most populated nation by 2030 and its urban population is expected to increase at a rapid pace, leading to increased consumption of oils and fats.

“India had critical role to play in the global supply chain across all commodities. It was the biggest exporter of grains, oilseeds and meal in the Asian region.”

Read the full OFI India 2016 review in the June issue of OFI

Download the OFI India business conference presentations at: