Lentils imports by India during the current financial year are likely to rise on ample global supplies with major producers like Canada and Australia seen harvesting bigger crop in weeks ahead. The expectations of higher crop is seen weighing on lentil prices globally, which have started declining.

“Prices of lentils have started coming down and have declined from ₹72 to ₹66 a kg over the past couple of weeks. We anticipate prices to come down further to around ₹60 as there is a good crop in Canada, which is harvesting around 2.5 million tonnes. After two months, Australia is estimated to harvest around 8 to 9 lakh tonnes. As a result, there will be abundant supply from these two countries to the Indian market and prices will come down further. International prices will fall because of the abundant supply,” said Bimal Kothari, Chairman, India Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA).

Augurs well for India

The fall in lentil prices should augur well for the consumers in India as there are some concerns about the upcoming tur (pigeon pea) crop on account of lower kharif acreages and excess rains affecting the standing crop in some States like Karnataka and Maharashtra, the major producing States. Tur prices have gained in the recent past on concerns of lower acreages.

“Lentils sometimes play a substitute, when prices of tur is high. The Indian consumers are price elastic,” Kothari said.

Presently, the imports of lentils are under open general licence (OGL). India had imported about 6.67 lakh tonnes of lentils during financial year 2021-22, down from 11.16 lakh tonnes in the previous year. The trade expects the lentils imports to go up this year.

“This year, India’s lentils imports is expected to be around 1.2-1.5 million tonnes,” said Vivek Agrawal of JLV Agro, a commodities brokerage. Agarwal said the new crop is being offered at $760 per tonne in vessels for the September-October shipment. Prices are down by about 15 per cent over same period last year’s $900 per tonne as Canada is having a good crop and so is Australia, he said.

Rahul Chauhan of IGrain India said imports are likely to be higher as our domestic crop was low last year. Importers are waiting for the new crop from Canada, which is seen higher at 2.5 million tonnes as compared to 1.6-1.8 million tonnes in the last year.

Chauhan said lentils from Canada, offered in containers at Mumbai port, are being quoted at ₹6,700 per quintal, while the Australian variety are quoted at ₹6,800 per quintal. A month ago, the prices were ₹7,100 and ₹7,200 respectively. Lentils offered in vessels for Mundra and Haziar port are quoted at ₹6,450 per quintal, he said.

Lentils are grown in India during the rabi season and production, according to third advance estimates, stood at 1.44 million tonnes during 2021-22, down from 1.49 million tonnes a year ago. India’s lentil output had doubled from 0.81 million tonnes in 2007-08 to 1.62 million tonnes in 2017-18, but subsequently declined to 1.1 million tonnes in 2019-20.