Urad dal prices in the retail market have increased on an average by ₹3-5/kg in the past one week while at some places the surge is ₹13/kg to about ₹110-120/kg, mainly due to overall lower acreage and fear of crop damage after incessant rains in the growing region of Madhya Pradesh.

Kendriya Bhandar, a Central government-run cooperative, has increased urad dal prices to ₹113/kg from ₹100/kg in a week while the Consumer Affairs Ministry data show the all-India average rate has gone up to ₹108/kg from ₹105 last week and ₹102 three months back.

“Mandi prices of urad crop (whole) in first two weeks of this month were on higher side in major centres like Jabalpur, Akola, Vijaywada and Chennai. Thereafter, prices have softened in tune with rates in Myanmar,” said Rahul Chouhan, founder of I-Grain India. The main reason for the increase was reduced area this season, he said, adding that the correction in prices after the initial increase was due to fall in prices in Myanmar. Domestic rates have also to be either lower or at par with international price since import is allowed at zero duty from Myanmar.

The price rise in urad has fuelled speculation of the government asking stockists to declare their stock position as done done by it in the case of tur, traders said.

According to Agriculture Ministry data, area under urad has declined to 35.21 lakh hectares (lh) as of August 18 from 37.10 lh year-ago. However, the acreage in the largest producing State Madhya Pradesh has increased marginally to 16.33 lh from 15.28 lh and in Uttar Pradesh to 6.97 lh from 6.64 lh.

On the other hand, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Jharkhand have reported lower sowing under urad. “Fortunately, Bundelkhand, a main region in UP and MP, has seen good crop due to fewer rains and the area has been higher,” said a pulses breeder from the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR).

Pest attack woes

Due to higher rains in Vidisha and adjoining districts of MP, farmers are worried over possible pest attack as there has been no sunshine for the past few days which make the field dry, traders said. Chouhan said the next few days are crucial as it will be flowering stage in MP and the crop yield may drop if rainfall does not subside. “It is too early to estimate the crop size,” he added.

The country had 2.76 million tonnes (mt) of urad production—1.80 mt in kharif and 0.96 mt in rabi—during 2021-22 crop year (July-June) against the target of 3.55 mt. But it was higher than 2.23 mt output in 2020-21.

“We have been trying to increase the area under urad in rabi season, particularly in States like Odisha as the climate-related risk is less compared to kharif. The past few years have seen kharif pulses getting damaged due to excess rains in some States,” said Bansa Singh, Director of ICAR’s Indian Institute of Pulses Research in Kanpur.