INDIA – The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Indian Oilseeds & Produce Export Promotion Council (IOPEPC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to increase the production of high-quality oilseeds in India.

Dr. Jacqueline Hughes, Director General of ICRISAT, and Mr. Nilesh Vira, Chairman of IOPEPC, signed the Memorandum of Understanding in order to improve their long-term collaboration and increase the quantity and quality of oilseeds farmed in India.

IOPEPC is recognized by the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, and serves as the common forum for Indian oilseeds/vegetable oils exporters, foreign buyers, the Indian Government, R&D agencies for oilseeds and vegetable oils in India, international agencies, and many other official bodies and authorities globally.

The collaboration will concentrate on increasing the area under cultivation, utilizing scientific advances, and working together at all levels, including giving farmers better-quality certified seed and bolstering the oilseed supply chain.

The partnership will also support the expansion of the Indian oilseed industry and promote food safety concepts, laws, and initiatives to the Indian government.

Given the variable weather patterns affecting India’s agriculture, Mr. Vira emphasized the significance of developing climate-resilient oilseed crops throughout the discussions.

He mentioned the difficulty farmers have growing groundnuts devoid of aflatoxin, a crop that is becoming more and more popular on the export market.

“Farmers want oilseed crops that can withstand climate vagaries. Changing monsoon patterns are affecting oilseed crops that usually take 110-120 days to mature. Farmers do not want to grow oilseeds due to unpredictable weather and we need to find solutions,” said Mr. Vira.

According to Mr. Kishore Tanna, Director-Groundnut Panel Convenor, IOPEPC, 15 million tons of edible oil are imported into India because farmers do not want to plant oilseeds, particularly groundnuts.

Mr. Tanna further called attention to the fact that because of strict import regulations on aflatoxin, which require levels of not more than 2 – 4 PPB for various grades of groundnuts, groundnut shipments to the European Union have decreased to about 6000-7500 tons.

Dr. Hughes, the Director General of ICRISAT, emphasized the significance of breaking up the export value chain to increase smallholder farmers’ earnings.

She also stressed ICRISAT’s dedication to locating solutions to get rid of aflatoxin, which has negative effects on all consumers and is present in groundnuts.

“Aflatoxin elimination is a doable challenge for ICRISAT, and partnership with IOPEPC will help ICRISAT focus on key areas of intervention applicable for the peanut sector in India,” said Dr. Hughes.

The visiting team presented a number of options for reducing the length of the export value chain and creating direct relationships between farmers and exporters.

The short value chain for soybeans in Rajasthan and Gujarat was one successful example they provided, and it has the potential to be replicated for other crops.

As another potential channel for bringing together farmers and exporters, they also cited the rising popularity of online markets.

Dr. Ashok Kumar, the Product Placement Lead at ICRISAT, Mr. Ramesh P. Kolath, the Deputy CEO of IOPEPC, and Drs. Sean Mayes, Stefan De Greling, and Janila Pasupuleti all participated in the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding.

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