The government has given more time for importers of soyameal and pulses such as tur and urad to bring in their consignments into the country till January 31, 2022.

A notification issued on Tuesday said the free import policy for tur (pigeon pea) and urad (black matpe) has been extended till December 31, 2021. Import consignments of these pulses with Bill of Lading (BoL) issued on or before December 31, 2021, shall not be allowed by customs beyond January 31, 2022, it said.

Earlier, the import policy for free imports was to expire on October 31 with arrivals allowed till November 30.

Importers of pulses have welcomed the Government’s move to extend the import window.

“The disruption in monsoon for about three weeks between June and July compounded by the excessive rainfall is expected to hamper the production of tur, urad and moong this year which could result in severe shortfall in domestic production. The Government has taken a proactive step by extending the import window which will ensure adequate imports of these pulses to tide over the ongoing festival season till the time the new crop hits the market. This will also help stabilise the prices ,” said Bimal Kothari, Vice-Chairman, The Indian Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA).

Logistics hurdles

In view of the prevailing shortage of containers and vessels, the IPGA requested the government recently to extend the arrival deadline for pulses imports from Myanmar and East Africa by 60 and 90 days, respectively.

“Tur is harvested in East Africa around August and shipments start in September. However, due to non-availability of containers as well as vessels connecting to India from transit ports, these cargoes are taking far more than the normal sailing time. The trade was worried that the extended sailing time would result in cargoes reaching India post November 30 which was the initial deadline. With the arrival deadline being extended till BoL Date of December 31 and arrival before January 31, 2022 gives importers ample time to procure and ship the pulses to India,” Kothari said in a statement.

In a separate notification issued on Monday, the DGFT said the shipment of soyameal whose bill of lading date is on or before October 31, 2021, shall not be allowed by the Customs beyond January 31, 2022.

Importers have contracted 1.25 lakh tonnes of soyameal from Bangladesh. Arrivals of around 1,500 tonnes per day have started from Bangladesh from August 29. From Vietnam, 75,000 tonnes have been contracted, while from Argentina 2 lakh tonnes of soyameal have been contracted and are expected to arrive mid-October. Further contracts of 5-7 tonnes are awaiting ports’ confirmation.

The extension of import window may put some pressure on soyabean prices, said Rahul Chauhan of IGrain India. Soyameal imports have been taking place from Bangladesh and this would help importers bring in consignments from Brazil and Argentina.

Bahadur Ali, Chairman, All India Poultry Breeders Association, said the extension of import window will help the livestock industry. He termed the decision as “very balanced”.

Recently, the AIPBA had urged the government to review the shipment date and ports for ease of imports of soyameal and de-oiled cake. Even after the government had allowed imports, the prices of soyameal had started firming up, after an initial dip, due to an anticipated delay in shipments.

The non-availability of vessels and high traffic on ports were causing delay in shipments, according to AIPBA. Moreover, the voyage time is about 65-70 days from Argentina, Brazil and the US, from where the importers have contracted the soyameal.