01 March 2022, Indore: The Soybean Processors Association of India (SOPA) has strongly condemned the Solvent Extractors Association’s (SEA) suggestion to stop Soybean cultivation in India and use 12 million hectares of land under soybean cultivation in the country for sowing other crops. President of SEA, during the course of a virtual meeting of the edible oil industry with the Union Minister Piyush Goyal on 25th February, 2022, had described diversion of 12 million hectares of land to soybean in India as a criminal waste of because it has only 18% oil and has low productivity, obliquely suggesting use of this land for sowing other crops. The SEA President while on the one hand suggesting that India is not deficient in protein, at the same time requested the government to permit import of GM soymeal.
Taking a strong exception to SEA’s suggestion, the SOPA Chairman Dr. Davish Jain described SEA’s demand as dangerous, anti-industry, anti-farmer and against country’s interest as it will amount to taking the country away from achieving self-reliance. Dr. Jain said “the entire soy industry will be wiped out if soybean cultivation is stopped and import of GM Soymeal is allowed and around 60 lakh farmers will lose a preferred kharif crop, especially in Central India, where there are few alternatives to soybean. This will not only further increase India’s dependence on imports for edible oils but will also make India dependant on imports for essential Protein needs.
Given the fact that large segment of Indian population suffers from menace of malnutrition due to nutritional imbalance, advising the government to stop soybean cultivation, will also amount to undermining health of people.
Indian farmers take minimum two crops in a year with Soybean as a short duration average 90-95 days maturing variety in Kharif and mostly wheat or gram in Rabi season. Some farmers also take a third intervening vegetable cultivation in between. In Latin and North America, only long duration one Soybean crop of generally 135-140 days maturity is sown in a year.
So in totality Indian farmers produce equivalent quantities in one year despite vast difference in available resources vis-a-vis western world. Discouraging cultivation of soybean will also amount to deprive the Indian people of the most economical source of vital protein with natural purity which is so important for human nutrition.
Several members of SOPA and soy processors have also condemned the proposals of SEA.