Agri Business

Pulses trade body bats for further imports

Our Bureau Bengaluru | Updated on June 03, 2021

Urges govt to allay trade’s fears on stock monitoring

The Indian Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA) said on Wednesday that the government should come out with a policy to augment supplies of pulses such as chana (gram) and masoor as the output of these pulses is seen lower than Agriculture Ministry’s estimates. The trade body also suggested that Government explore the option of using duties to protect the interests of both producers and consumers.

Addressing a press conference, Bimal Kothari, Vice-Chairman, IPGA, said the government could look at imposing tariffs to a level to ensure that the final landing price of imported pulses stays well above the minimum import prices. This way, the trade will prefer to buy the domestic produce when the prices are at or just above the MSP, he said.

Discrepancy in numbers

While the Ministry has estimated chana output at 12 million tonnes (mt) during 2020-21, the trade has pegged the output at 8.5 mt. Similarly, in case of tur, the production during 2020-21 was estimated at 4.1 mt by the Ministry, the trade had pegged the output at 2.9 mt, he said. In case of urad, the trade has pegged the crop at 2.06 mt against the government’s estimate of 2.37 mt.

Moong production was pegged higher by the Ministry at 2.64 mt, while the trade estimates were around 2 mt. Similarly, the government had estimated masoor output at 1.26 mt, while the trade has pegged it at 9.5 lakh tonnes, Kothari said.

According to the 2nd advance estimates, pulses production in 2020-21 was seen at 24 mt, while the consumption is pegged at 25-26 mt. The demand for pulses is going up by one million tonnes every year on rising consumption. “We expect pulses demand to touch 32-33 mt by 2030,” Kothari said.

 

Stock-holding norms

Considering the shortfall in supply amidst rising prices, the Government recently opened up imports of pulses such as tur, urad and moong to boost supplies. Also, the Centre has asked States to monitor prices on weekly basis and direct all stockholders, millers, traders and importers to declare their stocks.

Kothari said the latest instructions have only served to create apprehension amongst trade stakeholders, who are now hesitant to buy domestically produced pulses as well as import pulses.

“The traders are worried that legitimately procured stock also might come under scanner and in ambit of Essential Commodities Act, land the trader on the wrong side of law for no fault of his. Hence, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution needs to issue a categoric clarification stating that their intentions are to just monitor stocks held by the trade for policy purposes, which will help assuage the apprehensions,” Kothari said.

Published on June 02, 2021

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