Published On : Thu, Dec 20th, 2018

Soyabean deal with China: Maharashtra missed the bus?

Mumbai: The state government that decided to export de-oiled soya cake to China could have bargained more with the neighbouring if the decision was taken earlier. The decision comes at the end of the sowing of khariff crops across the state. The Maharashtra has received a positive response from China.

The Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis held a meeting with the Consul General of China Tang Guocai to discuss the requirement of de-oiled soya cake in the country. They also discussed to what extent Maharashtra can meet the demands, both in terms of quantity and price that have to be internationally competitive.

However, the talks between the state government and China began only after US Department of Agriculture announced that China bought 1.13 million metric tons of soybeans this week. The move was seen as a major concession to the Asian giant.

Observers feel that it was played as a concession. It’s a good thing. But it’s not something that’s surprising. China needs to come to the US to meet its demand.
If the China gets a good deal with the US, why it would depend on Maharashtra for soyabean supply?

With a keen appetite for soybeans and relatively fewer resources for increasing domestic production, however, the commodity proved to be a difficult habit for China to kick. Using them for cooking oil and animal feed, China is the world’s largest consumer of soybeans and bought more than half of American exports last year.

In view of such circumstances, the Maharashtra government missed the bus as it could have taken an advantage of the situation.

After meeting with the China Consul General, the chief minister Fadnavis said that the state is in talks with China that has shown interest to procure de-oiled soya cake. The state government is looking at potential markets abroad to ensure that farmers get higher price for their harvest this khariff season.

The cultivation of soyabean in Maharashtra is spread over 38 lakh hectares. The pre-harvest policy decision to explore the China market and create a demand for soyabean in the open market is to ensure that farmers don’t sell their crops to the traders below the Minimum Support Price. The minimum guarantee price for soyabean for 2018-19 is Rs 3,990 per quintal. Last year, it was Rs 2,950. The De-oiled soya cake has a big market in China. After processing soyabean for extracting edible oil, the extract is used for many things, especially in America and China.

Soyabean is used to make soya milk, soya flour, soya protein, tofu and biscuits among other things. De-oiled soya cake is used to make biscuits and other products in China. It is also used as fodder for animals, poultry and to make health products.

The senior BJP leader and chairman of the Maharashtra Commission for Agriculture Price, Pasha Patel, said: “The state can export a maximum of up to 40 lakh metric tonne. Whereas, China’s requirement is ten times more.”

The Maharashtra is the second largest soyabean cultivating state in the country. It is cultivated in almost all 14 distressed districts across Vidarbha and Marathawada region where an average two farmers commit suicide because of agrarian crisis. If such deal is finalised with China, it would be a boon for the farmers of “suicide-prone” regions of Maharashtra!