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Center panel to keep track of the essentials when prices skyrocket | Latest India News

New Delhi: The Union government has formed an inter-ministerial committee to monitor domestic prices, shipments and availability of agricultural products, especially edible oil, as rising fertilizer rates and global commodity prices base has sent domestic food prices skyrocketing, an official said, requesting anonymity.

India imports up to two-thirds of its cooking oil needs to meet domestic demand. A sudden decision this week by Indonesia, the world’s largest palm oil shipper, to ban palm oil exports has sent edible oil prices plummeting, straining supplies already suffocated by drought and shortages after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The committee, led by Union Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey, this week reviewed the availability of edible oils in the country and met with representatives of major oil processing associations, the official added.

According to data provided by the Ministry of Food, India’s current stock of all types of edible oils is estimated at around 2.1 million tons, which is sufficient for the month of May. Another 1.5 million tonnes of imported edible oil are in transit, which will arrive in batches during the month, the data showed.

India imports almost eight million tonnes a year to meet its domestic demand. In March, retail inflation accelerated to 6.95% – a 17-month high – from 6.07% the previous month, driven by a sharp rise in food prices, the latest data shows. official available.

“The Center is closely monitoring the prices of edible oils so that appropriate measures can be taken to control prices,” a statement from the Ministry of Food said on Sunday.

Edible oil prices remained high due to global supply disruptions and dented household budgets. The palm is used in most processed food products, from ice cream to cookies, and in personal care products, such as soaps.

The interdepartmental group has been tasked with reviewing price movements on a weekly basis for edible oils and other food products. It also assesses domestic production, demand, world prices and international trade volumes, the official said.

Special teams have also been formed to crack down on hoarding and profiteering under the Essential Commodities Act through surprise checks on edible oil processors and traders.

Pradeep S Mehta, general secretary of consumer advocacy firm CUTS International, said edible oil prices could rise by 100-200% if India does not finalize alternative sources.

Analysts at international brokerages said Indonesia’s ban was likely temporary, as the country lacked the capacity to store excess oil. Indonesia imposed a ban on crude and refined palm oil and palm olein as prices had risen in the domestic market.

Indonesia’s ban puts “half of India’s palm oil supply under a cloud, while increasing consumer inflation,” said Aravind B, an analyst at India Ratings and Research Ltd. oils,” he added.

Palm oil (crude and refined) accounts for about 62% of the total edible oils imported by India, mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia.