Mustard farm
Mustard farmPhoto - toinane on Unsplash

Mustard set to lead India’s oilseed revolution

Government to participate in SEA’s Mustard Mission

After witnessing green and white revolutions in the past century, India is on the cusp of the yellow revolution in the farm sector, this time in oilseed production. The revolution will be led by mustard, which may soon be crowned as the country’s top-grown oilseed. This was the outcome of discussions held by the edible oil industry veterans and eminent government dignitaries in a Webinar organized by the Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA) of India.

“SEA has been consciously working to reduce India’s import dependence on edible oils by raising domestic oilseed output. For this purpose, SEA has launched the Mustard Mission, by which it plans to raise mustard production to 20 million tons by 2025. This can be achieved by improved farm practices, deployment of the right technology, quality seeds, and other input management,” said Atul Chaturvedi, president SEA.

Speaking at the event, Sudhanshu Pandey, secretary, Department of Food and Public Distribution, said that mustard holds huge potential in raising India’s overall oilseed output due to its commercial viability and health-friendly properties.

Pandey added, “Return on mustard is highest at around Rs 31,000 per ha, as against Rs 26,000 per ha for wheat and Rs 22,000 per ha for rice. With the current rise in prices of mustard, the returns have improved manifold.” He also said that returns on soybean have come down due to high input costs. The industry should ensure adequate demand for mustard oil once the farmers raise production and productivity to ensure remunerative returns.

Shubha Thakur, joint secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, who also heads the oilseed mission, said the government is also keen on promoting mustard cultivation. The Government has already launched the mustard mission. She further said that besides Mustard, the government is also focusing on raising the acreage under oilseed crops such as groundnut and also utilizing the rice fallow lands in Eastern India apart from promoting intercropping.

Results of Model Mustard Farms developed by SEA jointly with Solidaridad in Rajasthan since 2019 showed a 49% increase in productivity using better farm practices, better seeds, technology. This makes mustard the preferred choice to raise India’s oilseed production. In the post-Covid world, mustard is seen as the most preferred edible oil due to several health benefits such as OMEGA-3 and higher monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats.

“Mustard has a very high oil content of 40% as against 18% in soybean. It has 36% protein, and it’s a climate-smart crop requiring very little water. About 80 crore people of 1.3 billion Indian population use mustard oil for cooking,” said Angushu Mallick, chief executive officer, and managing director, Adani Willmar.

In October, India’s mustard production in the current marketing year is set to comfortably top between 8.5 to 9 million tons, a record high. Record high prices are likely to incentivize farmers to cultivate mustard in a big way in the coming years, which will help the country achieve the target of 20 million tons in the next five years. This will make mustard India’s top-grown oilseed in the years to come, said Vijay Data, chairman, SEA Rape-Mustard Promotion Council.

The event rounded off with a lively discussion on price outlook moderated by Manisha Gupta, commodities editor of CNBC. Dorab Mistry, the renowned analyst, commented that the current rallies are primarily driven by prospective Green biodiesel mandates with the coming to power of Biden in the USA. All the bullish factors have already been priced, and markets are looking toppish. The consensus was that the upside potential from current levels is limited, and players should remain cautious.