Agri Business

As import curbs go, pulses acreage may dip

Vishwanath Kulkarni Bengaluru | Updated on May 18, 2021

Growers fear prices could soften, might switch over to other lucrative crops

Pulses acreage could witness a decline during the forthcoming kharif season after the Centre opened up imports of tur, urad and moong, according to farmers and analysts. Prices of pulses in the domestic market have softened, while they have gained in overseas market following the Government’s move.

“We expect a 5-10 per cent decline in pulses acreage over last kharif due to the impact of unrestricted imports during kharif. Also, as farmers faced weather vagaries in moong and urad last year resulting in crop loss, there will be a shift to lucrative crops such as soyabean and cotton that are ruling higher than MSP. Overall, the decline in pulses area could be 10-15 per cent,” said Rahul Chauhan of IGrain India.

Kharif pulses acreage last year was 140 lakh hectares (lh). The Agriculture Ministry has targeteda higher pulses output of 9.82 million tonnes (mt) in the ensuing kharif against 8.46 mt last year. Production target for crop year 2021-22 has been fixed at 25 mt, including gram and lentils grown during rabi.

A wrong signal

“Within a couple of weeks of Agriculture Ministry’s announcement to boost production and productivity of these pulses through distribution of seed kits, the Commerce Ministry has opened up imports, heeding to the trade request. We condemn this move as it will hurt the farmers interests with imports taking place during the harvest of moong and urad in the season ahead. We request the Government to reconsider and withdraw its decision to allow imports,” said Basavaraj Ingin, President of Karnataka Redgram Growers Association in Kalaburgi.

Prices of urad, tur and moong, which are ruling above MSP now, will fall below the MSP levels within a month, Ingin said. “By opening imports, they are allowing farmers to rethink about sowing. Farmers are preparing for sowing now,”Ingin added.

Moong, planted during June-July, is a 60-day crop and is harvested during August, while urad, a 90-day crop, is harvested during September-October. Tur is a 180-day-crop and is harvested during December-January period. As per the new import policy, traders have to bring in the pulses before November-end.

Prakash Kammaradi, former chairman of Karnataka Agricultural Prices Commission, said farmers will take a hit due to imports during the harvest period. While there is no shortage of production, allowing imports definitely creates a negative sentiment among farmers, said Kammaradi, while blaming the removal of Essential Commodities Act leading to artificial scarcity.

Prices dip

Meanwhile, last week’s decision on imports has led to softening of prices in the domestic market, while firming up in the overseas market. “Prices of urad and tur have firmed up by 10-12 per cent in Myanmar,” said IGrain’s Chouhan, adding that free imports would benefit both traders and consumers, while it is bad for farmers.

Tur and urad prices are now trending lower than last week. In Kalaburgi, tur prices were lower by ₹50 at ₹6,700-6,750 per quintal on Monday, while in Akola the prices were lower by ₹300 over last week. In Chennai, urad prices for FAQ quality was down by ₹500 at ₹7,100 for the old crop, Chouhan said.

Moong prices are down by ₹500-1,000 in recent weeks as farmers, who have grown the summer crop in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are waiting for markets to open.

Stocks of urad and tur are thin in Myanmar as production has been lower with farmers shifting to moong in recent years due to high Chinese demand and prices, Chouhan said. Also, the trade is still grappling due to the political turmoil. In Africa, the new crop will arrive in July-August, Chouhan said.

Published on May 17, 2021

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