Amid talk of hoarding of pulses such as tur (pigeon pea) and urad (black matpe) by the private trade in Myanmar, India on Wednesday warned the exporters in the neighbouring country that it may look at importing these items on a government-to-government (G2G) basis if supplies are not eased. It is understood that the exporters of these pulses from Myanmar, a large supplier, are taking advantage of the scarcity in India, which has led to a firm price trend in recent months.

Trade sources, who attended the virtual meeting convened by the Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh on Wednesday to take stock of the situation on the availability of these two varieties of pulses, confirmed the development.

Ban on private trade

“The government has warned the exporters of Myanmar that if they are taking advantage of the of the scarcity in India, then we will impose a ban on private trade and will buy on a G2G basis. The Consumer Affairs Secretary has given them a friendly warning. In fact, the Myanmar trade association president assured that they are not hoarding the cargo and will augment the supplies,” said Bimal Kothari, President, India Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA).

To manage the current scarce situation of tur, Kothari said IPGA has suggested certain measures to the government including the promotion of other alternate pulses like chana dal and masur dal, which are available in abundance and at minimum support prices.

“Also we advised them that government agencies should not buy tur in any of tenders of various schemes such as mid-day meals or ICDS among others. We have suggested that tur be replaced with chana dal or masur dal or yellow peas, which are in abundant supply and are a cheaper and good source of protein,” Kothari said. He said about half a million tonnes of tur are purchased through government tenders annually for various schemes.

Boosting supplies

The Indian government has been taking steps to ensure that the supplies of these two pulses are eased through imports so that prices are kept under a check. The imports of tur and urad are kept open till March 2024 to boost the supplies as the domestic output of these pulses was impacted due to erratic weather pattern. In the recent past, following a firming trend in prices of tur and urad, the Centre had directed the pulses importers to declare stock availability in a routine transparent manner.

Rahul Chauhan of IGrain India said the prices of tur have moved up in Myanmar in tandem with the domestic prices. Tur lemon, which was quoting at around $835 per tonne as on March 1, 2022, has now moved up to $1,080 . Also, African exporters have raised their quotes by $50 for the upcoming crop, he said.

As per the second advance estimate, production of tur, a kharif crop, has dropped to 36.66 lakh tonnes in the 2022-23 crop year to June against 42.20 lakh tonnes a year ago, while urad output for both kharif and rabi season has been estimated lower at 26.82 lakh tonnes against 27.76 lakh tonnes a year ago on account of excess rains.