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India soymeal supplies to arrive month late in Southeast Asia

India's soymeal supplies to arrive month late in Southeast Asia

Reuters Sep 3, 2014, 04.33PM IST

NEW DELHI: Soybean harvest will be delayed by a month this year, pushing back new-crop soymeal shipments to Southeast Asia until November, traders said on Wednesday.

The late arrival of this year's monsoon in the main soybean growing areas of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra states pushed back planting of the crop by more than three weeks.

The late monsoon this year in Maharashtra state also led some farmers to shift completely to soybeans from corn because the oilseed needs less water and matures in three months as compared to four for corn.

In India, the fifth top producer of soybeans, the crop is usually sown from the second half of June with the spread of the monsoon rains, with the planting usually over by mid-July.

"This year soybean ... planting spilled over until August first week," S.K. Srivastava, head of the state-run Directorate of Soybean Research, told Reuters over the phone from Indore, a soybean hub in central India.

"Periodic rains have so far ensured good soil moistures for a healthy growth of the soybean crop," added Srivastava, the country's leading soybean scientist.

India's soybean crop area stood at 11.03 million hectares (27.3 million acres) against 12.18 million hectares last year, according to the latest farm ministry update.

This year's area is 6.3 per cent more than the average area of 10.38 million hectares for the past five years, according to the ministry's update.

"We hope to have a higher output than last year though the time is still not ripe to forecast any output numbers," said Rajesh Agrawal, chief coordinator of the trade body Soybean Processors Association of India (SOPA) from Indore.

Traders estimated India's soybean production at 9 million-10 million tonnes in 2013, much lower than the Indian government's official figure of 12 million tonnes. Traders said their estimate took into account damage to the oilseed crop from late rains during its harvest season.

Last year's lower soybean output led to a 68 per cent rise in India's soyoil imports to 1.2 million tonnes during November 2013 to July 2014, according to the Mumbai based trade body Solvent Extractors' Association of India.

India is the world top soyoil importer, with imports meeting about half of its annual demand of 3.2 million tonnes.

The country's soymeal exports are estimated to have fallen to around 2.9 million tonnes so far in 2014, down at least a third from last year due to the drop in soybean output, said the SOPA official Agrawal.