Excess rains in the key producing regions across the country are likely to weigh on this year’s kharif pulses such as tur (pigeon pea/arhar) and urad (black matpe or gram), even as the total area under the legume crops is higher than last year.

Trade, farmers and experts believe that the production of tur could be affected due to lower coverage, while rains in September hold the key for urad output. However, moong output is likely to be flat.

As of July 29, the pulses acreage, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, stood at 106.18 lakh hectares (lh) compared with 103.23 lh a year ago. The planting season for all kharif pulses has almost ended. While tur acreage has declined by 13.5 per cent to 36.11 lh (41.75 lh in corresponding a year ago), the area under urad, moong bean and other kharif pulses have increased. Urad acreage is up marginally at 28.01 lh (27.94 lh), while moong coverage is up 15.5 per cent at 29.26 lh (25.29 lh). The area under other pulses has also increased by 57 per cent at 12.66 lh (8.03 lh), while kulthi (horse gram) acreage has shrunk to 0.15 lh (0.21 lh).

Sateesh Nukala, CEO & Co-founder, BigHaat said: “The overall sowing of pulses in Kharif crops has decreased this year in comparison to 2021. However, there has been a 3 per cent increase in the sowing of pulses while observing a minimum decline of 13 per cent in the cultivation of tur, which is one of the main kharif pulses along with arhar and tur.

This drop in sowing can be attributed to bad weather and patchy rainfall leading to farmers switching to other crops or allowing their land to go barren.”

Concern for growers

Among major pulse-producing States, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have clocked an increase in acreage, while Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Telangana have seen a decline. Lucrative prices for competing crops such as cotton, soyabean and even sugarcane have attracted the farmers’ interests in these traditional pulses growing regions.

While delayed and deficit rains during June pushed back the sowing in some States, excess precipitation during July — which has resulted in water logging of farms in parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Telangana among other States — is seen as a concern for growers.

“About 2 lh of the planted area of around 5.5 lh under tur, could have been impacted by excess rains, so far, this year,” said Basavaraj Ingin, President, Karnataka Pradesh Red Gram Growers Association in Kalaburgi (Gulbarga), considered the largest tur-producing district. Acreage under tur in Kalaburgi this year has declined by about 2 lh as farmers have switched over to soyabean, sugarcane and cotton. Also, the district has been bearing the brunt of excess rains during the planting season in the past two years.

Time to resow, but ...

Vast areas of farms planted with tur are waterlogged this year inflicting losses to the growers. “Even it stops raining now, farmers can still go and take up replant over the next few days, but there’s a forecast of rains for the next few days in the region,” Ingin said.

Kalaburgi district, which received 40 per cent more rains in the ongoing monsoon season from June 1-August 3, has received 115 per cent more precipitation over the normal during the past seven days, as per the data from the Karntaka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre.

Similarly, the adjoining districts of Bidar and Yadgir in Karnataka; Latur, Osmanabad and Solapur in Maharashtra, and Vikarabad, Mahabubnagar and Sangareddy in Telangana, where tur is grown, have also borne the brunt of excess rains, Ingin said.

Nitin Kalantri, a miller in Maharashtra’s Latur, said the decline in tur acreage could be higher than the Government estimates of 13 per cent. There are reports of some crop damage due to excess rains in Maharasthra and Karnataka, which could bring down the area by 5-8 per cent in these States. “It is too early to assess the crop loss as tur harvest is still four to five months away,” Kalantri said.

Good African crop

Bimal Kothari, Chairman, India Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA), said there might be some concerns as far as tur is concerned as the acreage is lower by 13 per cent. “We have to watch. Some sowing is still going on, but mostly tur planting has ended,” he said.

With the Government extending the tur imports till March 2023, and the new crop in East African countries arriving in the markets by the month end, there’s unlikely to be any impact on the supplies. Tur prices have firmed up in the recent past on reports of crop damage and are hovering around ₹7,800-8,000 per quintal.

“We are expecting a good crop in Africa, which will be harvested now. The African crop is around 6-7 lakh tonnes. When African tur starts coming into the Indian market, prices should stabilise and soften. It is good that the crop is arriving in India during the festival time, providing relief to consumers and the Government,” Kothari said.

Excess rain impact

While concerns linger around tur crop, the acreage under the other key kharif pulses – urad and moong is higher than last year’s levels. Urad acreage is higher in Madhya Pradesh at 13.74 lh (12.83 lh), Maharashtra at 3.99 lh (3.61 lh), Rajasthan 3.10 lh (3.06 lh), Uttar Pradesh 4.53 lh (3.46 lh), while it has reduced by half in Gujarat at 0.61 lh (1.23 lakh ha) and in Karnataka at 0.92 lh(1.01 lh).

“The extended La Nina and the rains brought about by the withdrawing monsoon during September are a concern for urad,” said Kalantri. In recent years, the excess rains during September have impacted the urad harvest, affecting the quality and the output.

Tarun Satsangi, AGM Commodity Research at Origo e-Mandi, said the sowing of urad and moong looks good and the acreages is higher than last year and the crop is likely to be good. Though there are some reports of crop damage due to excess rains, farmers have taken up resowing wherever possible, he said. “We are expecting a higher production of kharif pulses this year,” Satsangi said.

Production target

Total kharif pulses production was 8.25 million tonnes (mt) in 2021-22, as per the third advance estimates. This includes 4.35 mt of tur, 1.8 mt of urad and 1.48 mt of moong. Output of other pulses stood at 0.62 mt.

For the kharif 2022, the Government has set the pulses production target of 10.55 mt including 4.55 mt of tur, 2.7 mt of urad, 2.5 mt of moong and 0.80 mt of other pulses.

As far as moong is concerned, Rajasthan has witnessed a 38 per cent rise in area at 19.41 lakh ha (14 lakh ha), while Madhya Pradesh has also seen a marginal increase at 1.39 lakh ha (1.38 lakh ha). However, Karnataka has seen a marginal dip at 3.89 lakh ha (3.93 lakh ha), while Maharashtra has seen a decline at 2.65 lakh ha (3.46 lakh ha).

Punit Bachhawat, Managing Director, Prakash Agro Industries, a pulses miller in Ahmedabad, said there could be some impact of rains on urad and tur, while moong output is likely to remain same at around last year’s levels. “Overall, the urad area is down in other States, but good in Rajasthan. We expect around 20 per cent dip in urad output due to rains, while the tur production could be lower by 10-15 per cent,” he said.

The market has already factored in the crop damage, resulting in bullish sentiment of prices of tur and urad.

Nukala said Maharashtra and Karnataka have experienced excess rainfall and hence sowing of pulses has been lower. On the other hand, the acreage in Madhya Pradesh is up as it experienced heavy rains.

Moong picture clouded

While moong planting has been good in east Rajasthan and east M.P., there are reports of excess rains hurting the moong crop in Karnataka and Rajasthan. “It is difficult to assess the damage in moong as about 7-8 districts in Rajasthan had high rainfall. By end August we will be able to get a clear picture once we know the ground realities,” said IPGA’s Kothari.

IGrain India’s Rahul Chauhan said there’s some damage to sown area in Maharastra. “It is still raining and with an expectation of more rains overall there could be some impact on the productivity. We expect area under tur and urad to be lower than last year and this could result in lower crop of around 10-15 per cent,” Chauhan said.

“Amidst this challenge, there is an advantage in spending less on crop protection owing to the drop in sowing of tur, particularly,” said BigHaat’s Nukala.

( With inputs from Subramani Ra Mancombu, Chennai)