India’s output of Kabuli chana (white chickpea) will likely increase this year, as farmers, riding on higher prices, have expanded the acreage across key growing regions in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

While the acreages have increased, weather conditions over the next few weeks will decide the crop size. Also, exports ahead of next month’s Ramadan have been good, trade sources said. “The cultivation of Kabuli chana has seen a significant increase in all the major growing areas of the country this year. States such as Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have witnessed increase in areas. Farmers have responded to higher prices, which are at a record high hovering around ₹150 per kg, by increasing their sowing for this year’s crop. Additionally, the demand for Kabuli chickpeas, both domestically and internationally, was remarkable last year, further contributing to the rise in prices,” said Harsha Rai, Vice-president, Sales at Mayur Global Corporation, an international agro commodities brokerage house.

Monsoon impact

While the crop area and the condition looked good, the weather over the next few weeks holds the key for the crop size. “ Central India, known for large scale cultivation of chickpeas, has felt the impact of the deficit monsoon rains. While December was warmer than usual, January brought colder temperatures. Looking ahead, it would be interesting to observe what kind of yields will be seen from the Central India crop as the IMD has forecasted a hotter February ahead for the region.” Rai said.

Farmers have expanded the area under Kabuli chana as the prices were good for most part of the last year ruling above ₹100 per kg, said Suresh Agarwal, President, All India Dal Mills Association. As a result, the production will be more this year, he said.

Bimal Kothari, chairman of India Pulses and Grains Association, said the Kabuli chana crop will be bigger this year on increase in area. While there’s no official data on the production of Kabuli chana in the country, trade sources estimate it to be around 3.5 lakh tonnes. Production numbers of Kabuli chickpea are clubbed with crop estimates of chana by the Government. India exports and imports Kabuli chana. As per the DGCIS data, India exported 68,654 tonnes of Kabuli chana during April-November valued at ₹816.72 crore. During 2022-23, exports were 1.21 lakh tonnes, valued at ₹1,200 crore. India exports Kabuli chana to countries such as Turkey, UAE and Sri Lanka among others. During April-October of the current fiscal, imports of Kabuli chickpea were 72,060 tonnes valued at ₹518.72 crore.

Opportunity for old stocks

The early start to Ramadan this year, is keeping the prices firm this year. “Normally during the months of December, January, and February, kabuli chana prices witness a decline as the new crop harvest begins in mid-February. This period is characterised by increased stock liquidity from the previous year. However, this year was an exception to this trend, and prices did not decrease during these months as expected. The early start of Ramadan this year, beginning on March 10, has had a significant impact on the market for old crop stocks. This has provided a unique opportunity for old crop stocks to meet the demands of consumers,” Rai said.

Also, the new crop, which is in pod formation stages in many places, is expected from mid-February in Maharashtra and March in central India. “With the export demand for the months of February and March already showing promising results, it will be interesting to watch how the market evolves after April, when the Mexican crop also hits the market,” Rai said.