India has the world's largest area under oilseeds - 27 million hectares of land, accounting for about 15% of the total world hectare. But with average yield of only about 0.8 tones/ hectare, production only reached 21.4 million tones in 1996 which was considered low by world standards.
The major traditional oilseeds include groundnut and rapeseed. However, in the last 5 years or so, soybean and sunflower have witnessed sizeable increase in the share of total production. In 1996, groundnut and rapeseed accounted for 32% and 29% respectively.
In only few years, soybean's share has reached 21%, with sunflower taking about 6% of production. The rest is taken by other minor oilseeds including sesame, safflower, linseed, niger seed and castor seed. The palm oil is also coming up now as it has superior techno-economic advantages. Oil palm is expected to take some share of the soybean oil in coming years.