Govt to import pulses to meet shortfall, traders cry foul
The prices of pulses have risen by up to 64 per cent in the last one year as domestic production declined by around two million tonnes in 2014-15 crop year due to poor weather conditions.
The government on Wednesday said it will import lentils in large quantities to boost supply and also asked states to take action against hoarders. In a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Cabinet expressed concern over the rising prices and decided to increase imports, among
“The government is very serious on rising pulses prices. There has been less production of pulses. We will import pulses whatever quantity is required,” said Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan. He added: “We have asked state governments to take action against hoarders.”
However, according to traders, the Cabinet decision would come to a naught.
Grain merchants opined that the country’s flawed import mechanism would not help tackle the problem. Talking to Millennium Post, Ramesh Chandra Lahoti, who heads the Grain Merchants’ Association of Bengaluru, said: “The import will not help check the prices of pulses as the imported product would not land during peak demand. And, when pulses from Myanmar, Africa, Singapore, etc, would flock the Indian market, by then our own crop would be available.”
Lahoti added: “By November-end or December first week, our own pulses would be available in the market. So, I don’t see any major fall in the prices, even after the import as the rates will remain Rs 105 per kg in the retail market.”
It’s worth mentioning that importing of pulses is done through MMTC, the country’s largest foreign trading company, which takes around 90 days to make the product available in the market. If the process of importing takes off in July, the product will be available only by September-end.
“Even though the Centre has allowed the import in huge quantities, the prices of pulses such as tur, masoor and channa would not come down as commodity traders will again get a free hand to manipulate the prices of essential food item,” said Delhi Grain Merchants’ Association president
Millennium Post had on May 1 reported that the current spiral in the prices of pulses is due to corporate majors such as Reliance, Tata, Adani and Mahindra, among others, hoarding and holding stock of pulses in view of a poor monsoon forecast this year. At present, India imports around four million tonnes of pulses, largely through private trade, to meet domestic shortfall.