India has to import tur (pigeon pea), urad (black matpe) and masur (lentils) due to climatic uncertainties resulting in fluctuations in production, according to a reply in the Lok Sabha.

In a written reply in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Union Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, said the country has attained the self-sufficiency in chana and moong production. Though the production has increased in tur, urad and masur, climatic uncertainties have resulted in production fluctuations, he said.

Owing to specific consumption preferences coupled with production fluctuations, India still needs to import tur, urad and masur to meet the objective of ensuring availability of pulses at affordable prices for domestic consumers, the Minister said.

MoUs with 3 nations

India has Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Mozambique, Malawi and Myanmar for the import of pulses. The MoU provides for the import of 2 lakh tonnes (lt) of tur from Mozambique through private trade, and import of 0.50 lt of tur from Malawi through private trade. MoU with Myanmar provides for an import of 1 lt of tur and 2.5 lt of urad through private trade.

Asked if the government has taken measures to reduce the import dependence for pulses, the Minister said the National Food Security Mission implemented by Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare aims to increase domestic production of pulses through enhanced productivity, crop area expansion under pulses and promoting research and development for evolving better varieties. Increase in pulses production from 220.76 lt in 2018-19 to 273.02 lt in 2021-22 is a testament of the initiatives taken by the government in achieving self-sufficiency, he said.

Farm exports dip

To a separate query on the softening of global farm prices, Anupriya Patel, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, said the Food Price Index of the Food and Agriculture Organization had touched a peak of 159.7 in March 2022. It came down to 120.4 in November 2023, indicating a softening in global farm prices.

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Agriculture exports from India declined by 11.6 per cent during April-September 2023-24 compared with the corresponding period a year ago. Due to a fall in international prices, per unit value realisations on exports of several farm products from India, including tea, spices, cereals, cashew, guar gum meal, fresh vegetables, dairy products, vegetable oils, castor oil, cotton, etc., have declined, she said.

Besides, the decline in international prices, the restrictions imposed on export of essential food products such as wheat, non-basmati rice, sugar and onions, to ensure domestic food security, have also contributed to decline in value of agriculture exports in the current year, she said.

Ethanol production

To a separate query on ethanol production in the country, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Union Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, said the ethanol production capacity in the country was around 1,380 crore litres as on November 30. Of this, around 875 crore litres were molasses-based and about 505 crore litres was grain-based.

She said the government has been implementing Ethanol-Blended with Petrol (EBP) programme throughout the country wherein oil marketing companies sell petrol blended with ethanol. Under EBP programme, government has fixed the target of 20 per cent blending of ethanol with petrol by 2025.

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In order to achieve the target of 20 per cent blending by 2025, about l,016 crore litres of ethanol is required. Total requirement of ethanol, including for other uses, is 1,350 crore litres.

For this, about 1,700 crore litres of ethanol-producing capacity is required to be in place by 2025 considering the plant operates at 80 per cent efficiency, she said.