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Sunflower was introduced in India as an oilseed crop for the first time in 1969. Sunflower is a drought tolerant crop due to its deep tap root, that make it the best substitute to all rain fed commercial crop.
Sunflower seed has an oil recovery of 35%. The protein content is around 25% and sunflower meal is used as a protein source in animal feed preparation. Sunflower oil is considered as healthy oil
Sunflower oil is the non-volatile oil expressed from sunflower (Helianthus annuus) seeds. Sunflower oil is commonly used in food as a frying medium, and in cosmetic formulations as an emollient.
Sunflower oil also contains lecithin, tocopherols, carotenoids and waxes. Sunflower oil's properties are typical of a vegetable triglyceride oil.
There are several types of sunflower oils produced: high linoleic, high oleic and mid oleic. High linoleic sunflower oil typically has at least 69% linoleic acid. High oleic sunflower oil has at least 82% oleic acid. Variation in fatty acid profile is strongly influenced by both genetics and climate.
The sunflower oil production of the world is around 8-9 million tons in a normal year. The exports are traditionally around 30% of the total production. It is expected that around 3 million tons of oil will be exported in 2005-06.
Russia and Ukraine are the first and second largest producers respectively of sunflower seed in the World. The other major producers are Argentina, France, Romania, Hungary, China, India and United States of America.
Currently, sunflower seed accounts for around 8% of the world's total oilseed production and sunflower oil accounts for 9% of the global edible oil production.
In India, sunflower is grown both in the kharif and rabi season. However, around 70% of the crop is produced in the rabi (November – March) season. The kharif (June – September) period accounts for less than 30% of the crop currently.
Indian sunflower seed production ranges between 10-15 lakh tons. The major producers are Karnataka (35%), Andhra Pradesh (30%), Maharashtra (15%), Punjab (4%) and Haryana (4%).
In India the average yield of oil obtained by mechanical extraction from sunflower seed is 35 % from unshelled seed of normal moisture content (9%) and 42.5% by pre-press and solvent extraction. Crude oil to refined oil conversion rate is 95%.
The production highly fluctuates between years, depending on the monsoon. There is high substitutability between sunflower oil and groundnut oil especially in AP among the consumers. So, price of other major oils like groundnut, soyoil and other edible oils also influence the prices of refined sunflower oil.
Besides this, production of the other leading exporting countries like Russia, Ukraine, Argentina, USA and EU also influence the prices to great extent.