Amidst lower acreage and reports that some section of the trade is resorting to restricted sales, the Centre has asked all States and Union Territories to enforce stock disclosure on tur/red gram under the Essential Commodities Act.

“The Department of Consumer Affairs on August 12, 2022, issued a directive to all the States and UTs to enforce stock disclosure by stockholders of tur under Section 3(2)(h) and 3(2)(i) of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, and also to monitor and verify the stocks. The States/UTs have also been asked to direct stockholder entities to upload the data of stocks held by them on the online monitoring portal of the Department of Consumer Affairs, on weekly basis,” an official statement said.

The area under tur, as per the latest data from the Ministry of Agriculture on August 12, was down by 12 per cent at 42 lakh hectares (lh) compared with 47.55 lh a year ago as the coverage in key producing States such as Maharashtra and Karnataka has declined.

Prices up from July 2nd week

“There are reports that some sections of stockists and traders are resorting to restricted sales in an attempt to create artificial scarcity to push the price upward. The retail price of tur has been on an upward trend from the second week of July following the slow progress in kharif sowing compared with last year due to excess rainfall and water logging in parts of major tur-growing States of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh,” the statement said

The Centre is closely watching the overall availability and prices of pulses in the domestic as well as overseas markets to take necessary pre-emptive measures in an event of unwarranted price rise during upcoming festival months.

“On top of the sufficient overall availability of pulses in the domestic market, the government is currently holding about 38 lakh tonnes of pulses which are being released in the market to further augment the stocks available in the market,” the statement said.

‘Willing to cooperate’

Bimal Kothari, Chairman, India Pulses and Grains Association said the government is concerned about the increase in tur prices, which have increased by ₹10-15 a kg in past one-and-half months.

“Definitely there is a concern on the production front. We had recently apprised the Consumer Affairs Ministry about the concerns on tur production and have requested not to take any regressive steps such as raiding the traders and mills and imposing stock limits. As an industry we are ready to work with the government to ensure maximum supplies so that there is constant supply of the product and prices remain stable. Ultimately, only higher supply will ease the prices. We want the government to take progressive steps in ensuring more supplies through increasing production,” Kothari added.

While the Agriculture Ministry sees a 10 per cent drop in acreage, the trade expects the area decline under tur to be around 20 per cent.

“Traders expect tur production will be less. We need more than 40 lakh tonnes for domestic consumption, while our domestic production is likely to be between 30 and 35 lakh tonnes, which is not enough. The government has placed tur imports under the open general licence and imports are coming from least developed countries (LDC) countries in Africa duty-free. The harvest has started in Eastern African countries and arrivals are expected from next month. Total arrivals from Africa and Myanmar will be 6-7 lakh tonnes in next 2-3 months, which is festival period, will stabilise the prices,” Kothari said.

Meanwhile, the price of chana is trending lower due to higher production and prices of masur are coming down due to large crops in Canada and Australia. “India is a price-elastic market and if the tur prices are high, there will be some shift to low-cost pulses like chana and masur,” he said.