Centre contracts 8,500 tonnes pulse imports, shipments on way
Learning lessons from the past experiences — when government had faced the heat of opposition over prices of pulses which had crossed Rs 200/kg mark, the government has acted in advance to avoid similar situation again. To contain the prices of lentils to the reach of common masses, Centre has already contracted import of 8,500 tonnes of pulses and the shipments are on the way.
In another major step to make available pulses through the year, the government’s pulse procurement for buffer stock has touched 51,000 tonnes, surpassing the target set for this kharif season. The Centre had set a procurement target of 50,000 tonnes from kharif season and 1,00,000 tonnes from rabi season of the 2015-16 crop year.
“Prices and availability of essential commodities were reviewed on Monday. The meeting was informed that the import of 8,500 tonnes of dal ordered is already on the way,” an official statement read.
The meeting, chaired by Consumer Affairs Secretary C Viswanath, also reviewed the buffer stock of pulses and tomato production situation, among others. Senior officials of consumer affairs, agriculture and commerce ministries, FCI, MMTC and NAFED were present. “Given that government agencies have procured 51,000 tonnes of kharif pulses for the buffer stock as against the target of 50,000 tonnes, now, the concerned agencies have been asked to start procurement of masoor, gram dal and other rabi pulses,” the statement said.
Pulse procurement is being undertaken by state-owned Food Corporation of India (FCI), agri-cooperative Nafed and the Small Farmers' Agriculture-Business Consortium (SFAC).
According a representative of the agriculture ministry, who was present in the meeting, the area under oilseed production in 2015-16 rose 2.1 per cent and mustard output is expected to be higher by 6 lakh tonnes. The meeting also reviewed production of tomato in the country and its price trends. Tomato output is also expected to increase by 11.6 per cent in 2015-16. Efforts are being made to increase its cultivation in non-traditional areas by using advanced hybrid varieties, it added. The government is importing pulses and creating buffer stock to ensure there is adequate supply in the domestic market and prices are in check.
The meeting was attended by senior officials of Department of Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare, Commerce, MMTC, NAFED and FCI.
In June 2015, when the prices of pulses had skyrocketed to Rs 200/kg, the government had ordered to import lentils in large quantities to boost supply and states were asked to take action against hoarders.
“The government is very serious on rising pulses prices. There has been less production of pulses. We will import pulses whatever quantity is required,” Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan had said.