The Indian government has dramatically increased the import taxes on various edible oils by 60% to 100% after the country’s farmers expressed economic concerns about cheap imports.

The Soybean Processors Association (SOPA) of India had been demanding restriction on imports due oilseed prices plummeting below the minimum support price (MSP) level and the crushing industry facing stiff competition due to low-cost imports, reported The Economic Times of India on 18 November.

The import duty on crude soyabean oil increased from 17.5% to 30%, on refined soyabean oil from 20% to 30%, on crude palm oil from 15% to 30%, on RBD palm oil from 25% to 40%, on crude sunflower oil from 12.5% to 25%, on refined sunflower oil from 20% to 35%, on crude canola/rapeseed/mustard oil from 12.5% to 25% and refined canola/rapeseed mustard oil from 20% to 35%.

SOPA chair Davish Jain told The Economic Times that the Indian government had already increased the duties slightly in August, but the association kept lobbying for a larger tax hike due to concerns for the oilseed industry’s survival.

“The government has to balance farmer and consumer interests and also has to consider the impact of inflation on oil prices. Unless Indian farmers are supported against cheap oil imports, our whole oilseed economy will suffer badly and may even collapse in the case of soyabean,” Jain said.

“The fate of the industry is directly linked to farmers’ interests and the two cannot be seen in isolation. As the prices of all oilseeds fell below the MSP and a sense of deep distress and despondency was setting in the minds of the farmers, the government finally saw the logic in our requests,” he added.

Jain said SOPA would now begin to examine what medium- and long-term strategies were available for sustainable profitability in the oilseed industry.