India’s pulses exports for the financial year will likely scale a new record on rising demand for chickpea and lentils from countries such as China, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bangladesh.

During the April-January period of the current financial year, pulses exports in terms of volume were up 80 per cent at 5.39 lakh tonnes(lt). In the same period a year ago, exports were 3 lt. In terms of dollar, pulses exports during April-January were up 73 per cent at $476 million ($275 million in the same period a year ago). In terms of rupee, exports were up 85 per cent at ₹3,784 crore (₹2,048 crore), as per the latest data from APEDA. In the financial year 2021-22, pulses exports were 4.1 lt, valued at $379 million.

Demand from expats

“There’s a lot of demand for Indian pulses, especially desi chickpea, kabuli chana and lentils among others from countries such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal,” said Bimal Kothari, Chairman, India Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA), the apex trade body. From countries such as the US, Canada and the UK, the demand for Indian pulses is largely driven by the expatriates, Kothari said.

“Exports of chana is up due to the demand from Bangladesh and Nepal, while the demand for tur dal is mainly from Gulf countries,” said Punit Bachhawat, a miller in Ahmedabad, who supplies to exporters. Also, there’s good demand for masoor (lentils) from Bangladesh, which used to import from Australia. With crop damage in Australia this year, Bangladesh is buying more lentils from India this year and also due to the Ramadan demand, Bachhawat said.

Rahul Chauhan of IGrain India said the growth in pulses exports is driven by the demand for chikpea (kabuli chana), desi chikpea and lentils. Other variety of pulses such as pigeon pea (tur), black matpe (urad) and moong have witnessed a decline, he said.

“Lentil exports have more than doubled to around 43,784 tonnes during the April-November period this fiscal against 20,891 tonnes a year ago. Similarly, exports of kabuli chana have increased to 85,661 tonnes during April-Dec compared with 45,691 tonnes in 2021-22. Exports of desi chickpea have increased to 68,808 tonnes during April-December compared with 50,773 tonnes a year ago,” Chauhan said.

Vegan preference rising

APEDA chairman, M Angamuthu said “with the rising preferences for vegetarian and vegan foods globally and India being the largest producer of varieties of pulses, we can cater to meet the increasing global demand for pulses.”

India is the largest producer and consumer of pulses. As per the second advance estimates for 2022-23, India’s pulses production is estimated at a record 278.10 lt against 273.02 lt a year ago. The record pulses output is largely driven by chana and moong crops, while the production of tur and urad was impacted by bad weather across various parts of the country. To keep prices of tur and urad under check, the government has kept the imports open of these pulses varieties till March 2024.

As per the second advance estimates, chana production is projected at record 136.32 lt (135.44 lt last year), while moong output is expected to be at a new high of 35.45 lt (31.66 lt).