Centre asks states to put stock holding limits on pulses
With prices of pulses spiralling again on supply crunch, the Centre has asked states to impose stock holding limits for traders on all varieties of pulses in order to curb hoarding.
"Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have stock limits on selected pulses. So, we have requested them to impose stock restrictions on all kinds of pulses for effective control of hoarding and prices," a senior Food Ministry official said. Similarly, Uttarkhand, West Bengal and North Eastern region are yet to put such limits. Imposed under the Essential Commodities Act, the stock limits on pulses traders have been in place for over more than a year now.
However, despite Madhya Pradesh being a major producer of chana (gram), the state government has not imposed stock limit on chana traders even as retail prices have been on rise. More than 30 per cent of the country's total chana production comes from MP and the state has imposed stock limits only traders of tur, urad and masoor dal.
Similarly, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have imposed on chana and not other pulses. At present, urad is available at Rs 185/kg, tur at Rs 165/kg , moong at 124/kg, masoor dal at Rs 105/kg and gram at Rs 85/kg in most retail markets, as per the government data. Retail pulses prices across the country have started rising again now on tight supply-demand situation and the government has started offloading lentils from its buffer stock of 50,000 tonnes to improve availability.
States have been requested to immediately place their requirement for making allotment of tur and urad dals for retail distribution through their channels. Pulses prices are under pressure due to fall in domestic production on account of back-to-back drought. The government is also initiating procurement of rabi pulses and has targeted to procure around 1,00,000 tonnes of chana and masoor to build the buffer stocks further. To curb price rise in chana futures, NCDEA has restricted traders' participation by raising desposit money, called margin, on both buyers and sellers. As per the agriculture ministry's second estimate, pulses production is estimated at 17.33 million tonnes in 2015-16 crop year (July-June), marginally higher than the previous year's production of 17.15 mt.
India is the world's largest producer of pulses, but its domestic demand outstrips production. The shortfall is met through imports, which rose to 5.79 million tonnes in 2015-16 fiscal from 4.58 million tonnes in the previous year.
55.1 lakh tonnes imported in first 11 months of 2015-16
As part of efforts to check rise in pulse prices, India imported 55.1 lakh tonnes of lentil valued at $3,690.3 million in April-February of 2015-16, Parliament was informed on Wednesday. The country had imported 45.8 lakh tonnes of pulses valued at $2,786.1 million in 2014-15 and 36.4 lakh tonnes at $2,119.3 million in 2013-14, according to a written reply to the Rajya Sabha by Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
"To augment domestic availability and stabilise prices of pulses, the government imported 5,000 tonnes of tur through MMTC in 2015-16. For buffer stock of pulses, MMTC has already contracted for import of 13,500 tonnes of tur and 12,500 tonnes of urad," Sitharaman said. The Centre has created a buffer stock of 50,000 tonnes of tur and urad procured in the 2015 kharif season and is also in the process of buying rabi pulses. The government is using the Price Stabilisation Fund for creating buffer stock and import of pulses and other essential commodities so that it can intervene in the market to check prices.
As per the agriculture ministry's second estimate, pulse production is estimated at 17.33 million tonnes in 2015-16 crop year (July-June), marginally higher than the previous year's production of 17.15 million tonnes. India is the world's largest producer of pulses, but its domestic demand outstrips production. The shortfall is met through imports, which rose to 5.79 million tonnes in 2015-16, from 4.58 million tonnes in the previous year.