India exported around 16 lakh tonne of soybean meal between October 2020 and January 2021 because of strong global demand, and is likely to cross the 18-lakh-tonne export mark this season, according to top officials at the Soybean Processors Association of India (SOPA).
Davish Jain, chairman of SOPA, said the 2020-21 season has been historic for soybean because farmers have received hefty returns on their crop. Soybean prices have crossed Rs 6,500-7,000 per quintal in key markets in Maharashtra and other states. Speaking at an industry meet on soybean, Jain said getting higher prices will certainly encourage farmers to increase the acreage under soybean farming in the coming year. “Hence, I do not subscribe to the demand made by the poultry association for import of 12 lakh tonne of soybean. Giving a boost to domestic farming instead will be in the interest of soybean farmers, soybean meal users and processing industries and it will arrest the uptrend in soybean prices. This will also result in a rise in demand from the poultry and aquaculture industry.”
The poultry industry has sought a duty-free import of 12 lakh tonne of soybean to meet its demand. According to Jain, the poultry and aquaculture industry needs 50 lakh tonne of soybean meal annually. “To produce this, soybean processors need 65 lakh tonne of soybean seeds. However, amid the historic rise of soybean prices in the country this year and subsequent rise in soybean meal prices which has risen by almost 50%, from Rs 35 per kg to Rs 58 per kg, the demand for soybean meal from the poultry industry has declined,” he explained.
However, contrary to declining demand for soybean meal for feed, export of soybean meal has recorded a sharp rise compared to the previous year, Jain said. “Production of soybean meal between October 2020 and March 2021 rose to 46.69 lakh tonne, against 26.21 lakh tonne last year. Similarly, soybean meal exports this year till March (in the first nine months) rose to 15.9 lakh tonne, against 4.23 lakh tonne during the same period last year,” he pointed out.
“This year, the production of soybean has been almost 104 lakh tonne and this will give 93.5 lakh tonne for crushing after appropriating stocks for sowing and stocks retained for other direct consumption,” Jain said.
The residual meal should suffice for the domestic industry after 18 lakh tonne of exports, he said. SOPA has pegged consumption for the feed industry at 27 lakh tonne for first six months and 23 lakh tonnes for the next six month.