Millennium Post

Food Ministry recommends 7.5% import duty on pulses

The Food Ministry is in favour of a 7.5 per cent import duty on pulses as against 10 per cent suggested by the Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices (CACP) to boost domestic production.

India, the largest producer of pulses, imports about three million tonne of lentils every year to fulfil its domestic demand. Pulses imports are being permitted at zero duty since 2006 to ensure availability.

'The Food Ministry has taken note of the CACP's recommendations on pulses. It is in favour of raising import duty to 7.5 per cent,' a senior government official said.

The import duty hike is necessary at this point to protect domestic farmers because imported pulses like tur have become cheaper as compared to the domestic, especially after the hike in the minimum support price (MSP), he said.

The government has made some progress in increasing pulses production through higher MSP in last few years and the Agriculture Ministry fears the pulses sowing could affect if cheap imports flood the market and distort prices, he added.

According to industry data, traders are importing tur at Rs 3,300-3,500 per quintal from Myanmar currently, while domestic prices are ruling at Rs 4,300 per quintal.

The official further observed that the other reason for proposed restriction in shipments is that cheap imports are encouraging some traders to push the same for sale at an MSP rate to government body NAFED's support price programme. CACP, which recommends support price for agriculture commodities, had recommended 10 per cent import duty on pulses in its report on kharif 2013-14 crops to boost local output.

Apart from private traders, state-owned trading firms MMTC, PEC, STC and cooperative major Nafed import pulses. The major suppliers are Canada, Myanmar, Australia, the US, Tanzania and Mozambique.

Pulses are grown in both the kharif (summer) and rabi (winter) season. Presently, farmers are preparing for sowing of kharif pulses.
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