Despite the shortfall in the kharif pulses acreages, the easing of import policy and higher output in other geographies are expected to ensure adequate supplies in the festive season ahead. As of September 2, the kharif acreages are down by over four per cent at 129.55 lakh ha.
Impact of uneven rainfall
“The outlook is not as bright in terms of sowing and the rains have been erratic posing a challenge. However, because of the easing in our import policy regime, I hope that adequate production in other geographies will help us overcome this crisis and the prices in the high demand season will not be excessively high,” said Rohit Kumar Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Food and Consumer Affairs.
Addressing a webinar on the kharif outlook, organised by the India Pulses and Grains Association, Singh said the country has faced uneven rainfall pattern with some areas receiving excess rains, while others have seen a deficit. Also, the share of kharif pulses in overall output has reduced from 37 per cent to 31 per cent, which is not a good sign.
Tur acreages have declined by about 6-7 per cent, while urad has declined by 5 per cent, and moong by 4 per cent. “If we don’t have adequate domestic production, we keep our borders open for facilitating imports from overseas markets. This year, we have had a stable import regime in terms of pulses,” he said.
The domestic pulses production is about 26 million tonnes, while the consumption is higher at 27-28 million tonnes. “We have also seen that consumption is increasing as the poverty levels reduce in the country,” Singh said.
Till the domestic production matches the consumption level, India has to depend on the imports. Also, in some countries, farmers are growing pulses for consumption in India. “We should give the right signals to those farmers so that there is no risk being built into the pricing unnecessarily,” Singh said, explaining the rationale behind the import policy. Tur and urad are currently under the free import regime and the seamless inflow of pulses will help easing the situation in pricing in coming months when demand is high.
Tech interventions and Govt guidance
Singh further stressed upon the need to improve efficiencies in the farm-to-consumer chain and pulses milling by introducing technology and process interventions, which could result in overall improvement in the availability. The Government could look at supporting the industry in adopting technology interventions, he said.
Bimal Kothari, chairman, IPGA said his association was working closely with the Government for the transformation of the pulses sector by providing policy inputs and forward market guidance in an objective and unbiased manner. IPGA’s vision is to make the Indian pulses trade competitive globally, he said.
IGrain India’s Rahul Chauhan said tur crop is in good condition in Karnataka and Maharashtra, while the urad crop is damaged in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, but satisfactory in Maharashtra. Tur imports are expected to be about 8.5 lakh tonnes during 2022-23, while urad imports are likely to be about 6 lakh tonnes, he said