Amid a possibility of lower output of urad (black matpe) in the current kharif season, the Centre is reported to have directed cooperative major National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (Nafed) to buy 25,000-35,000 tonnes of imported urad through auction instead of floating a global tender. Accordingly, Nafed has invited bids from traders to participate in the auction.

According to the notice posted on Nafed website, bidders have to supply imported urad at any of its designated warehouses in Chennai or Vishakapatnam or Nhava Sheva (Maharashtra). Bids have to be made for a minimum of 500 tonnes and the government will buy maximum 2,000 tonnes a day.

The notice posted on August 26 mentioned the daily timing of auctions, but it is not clear when the auction will start and end. However, sources said since it is through reverse auction through a designated portal, there is no such requirement and it will continue until September 2.

Not the first time

“It is not the first time this has happened. We have purchased pulses through the same process on three occasions earlier and it is better than floating a global tender when the supplier countries are one or two,” said an official source.

The Nafed tender said: “The supplier will ensure delivery of the contracted quantity at the designated warehouse within 15 working days from the date of issuance of the purchase order issued by Nafed on behalf of the Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA).” This implies that only the regular private importers will be able to participate. However, when the notice mentioned that the urad to be supplied must be from the 2022 crop and Myanmar is the only country where there is a surplus, all the bids will likely be only from that country, traders said.

“Urad harvest starts from February in Myanmar and continues until June. India is the main buyer,” said Rahul Chouhan, founder of I-Grain India. The 2022 crop in Myanmar was very good and production is estimated to have doubled to about 0.5 million tonnes (mt) from a year earlier.

India’s urad production was 2.76 mt — 1.80 mt in kharif and 0.96 mt in rabi — during the 2021-22 crop year (July-June) against the target of 3.55 mt. But it was higher than 2.23 mt production in 2020-21. The government targets 3.7 mt — 2.7 mt in kharif and 1 mt in rabi — during the current crop year. However, kharif acreage has declined by 4.7 per cent to 36.15 lakh hectares (lh) as of August 26 from 37.91 lh year-ago, indicating a likely drop this year.

Urad dal prices in retail market have increased on an average by ₹3-5/kg within a week while at some places the surge is ₹13/kg to ₹110-120/kg, which is attributed to lower acreage.