The country is currently importing about 89% of its edible oil requirement, incurring an annual expense of $3.6 billion.

Pakistan is reportedly eyeing an increase in oilseed cultivation as a strategic move to curb its dependence on edible oil imports. The annual consumption of edible oil in the country stands at approximately 5 million tons, however due to the limited local market potential for oilseeds, farmers have been less inclined to cultivate them, resulting in the country importing about 89% of its edible oil requirement, incurring an annual expense of $3.6 billion.

Speaking at a consultative meeting focused on promoting oilseeds cultivation, Iftikhar Ali Sahoo, secretary of the Agriculture Department of Punjab, highlighted the rising global demand for oilseeds. He says, “By increasing the area under cultivation of oil products, we can not only fulfil our own needs of edible oil, but also possibly earn a lot of foreign exchange.”

China’s annual cooking oil consumption reached around 13.44 million tons last year. The country managed to address its domestic supply shortages by promoting the cultivation of brassica napus, a variety of rapeseed that is disease-resistant and boasts high yields.

The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) has developed new rapeseed varieties, which have been adopted in some northern regions of China, enabling China to rotate rapeseed crops with staple crops like rice and wheat and maximize land utilization.

Pakistan is collaborating with Chinese company Wuhan Qingfa-Hesheng and Pakistani firm Evyol Group to provide high-quality hybrid rapeseeds to Pakistani farmers. Ghazanfar Ali, head of marketing at Evyol Group says, “It took us 10 years to produce a variety that is compatible with the local climate, produces a good yield and is good for human health,” noting that farmers can achieve 1.5 tons of yield from 2 acres of land, surpassing current varieties available in Pakistan by over 10%.

Zhou Xusheng, director of the international business department at Wuhan Qingfa-Hesheng Seed company says, “This year we sold 11 tonnes of seeds across Pakistan, which will be cultivated on 20,000 acres, and our target for next year is 100 tons.” He also highlighted their intention to purchase the canola harvest from certain farmers and supply it to edible oil factories to promote the benefits of locally-produced oil.