Oilseed production doubles in 12 years
Although oilseed production in Bangladesh has almost doubled in the last 12 years, most of the local demand for edible oil is met through imports, according to Agriculture Minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque.
"Vast amounts of foreign currency are spent on importing edible oil as there is a scarcity of suitable land for oilseed crops in the country," he said.
Razzaque made these remarks yesterday while speaking at a virtual workshop on the "Increase in Production of Oilseeds" project.
Under the project, taken at end of last year involving Tk 278 crore, the cultivation of oil crops such as mustard, sunflower and soybean will be increased by 20 per cent through the use of modern varieties of short-term crops in 250 upazilas across the country by 2025.
"Our scientists have developed high yielding and short-term improved varieties of mustard and if these can be quickly popularised among farmers, it will be possible to increase the production of oilseeds," Razzaque said.
According to the agriculture ministry, oilseed production was 6.6 lakh tonnes in 2009 while it increased to 11.54 lakh tonnes in 2020.
"This ministry is working to increase the cultivation of oil crops as an additional crop without reducing the increase in paddy production," he added.
Md Mesbahul Islam, senior secretary of the agriculture ministry, said it is possible to increase the production of paddy by one tonne per hectare by cultivating improved varieties of Bridhan-71, Bridhan-81, Bridhan-89, and Bridhan-92.
"If this can be done, there will be a 10 per cent land surplus. So, other crops can be cultivated instead of paddy," he said, adding that it is also possible to increase the crop density by cultivating improved varieties of paddy and mustard.
As per data from the agriculture ministry, 90 per cent of the country's edible oil demand is met through imports while only 10 per cent is locally produced.
About 48 lakh tonnes of oil crops had to be imported at a cost of Tk 24,800 crore in fiscal 2018-19.
Meanwhile, the use of these oils is gradually increasing in the country. The consumption of edible oil and fat increased to 3.08 million tonnes in 2019 while it was 2.22 million tonnes in 2015.
Besides, the per capita consumption of oil and fat has increased to 18.7 kilogrammes while it was 13.80 kilogrammes in 2015.