Throwing cold water on the festive plans of the farming community, the prices of most kharif crops currently being harvested, such as pulses, oilseeds and cereals, are ruling below minimum support price levels across markets.

Lack of demand, higher carried-forward stocks and the hangover of demonetisation are seen weighing on the prices of commodities such as green gram, black gram, groundnut and soyabean.

This is despite the Centre projecting lower output (except for black gram, output of which is expected to grow 17 per cent on higher acreage) in its first advance estimates.

Responding to States’ requests, NAFED has begun procurement of pulses — mainly green gram — in Karnataka and Telangana. “We also expect to commence procurement in Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat next month,” said Sanjeev K Chadha, Managing Director, NAFED.

About 30 procurement centres have been opened in Karnataka and around nine in Telangana. More centres will be opened as arrivals pick up in the days ahead. “We have already started registering farmers and have set up a payment gateway, which should help them realise their payments in 2-3 days as against a month last year,” Chadha said.

“Procurement of moong has begun in Bidar and Gulbarga districts. If the procurement had started at least a month earlier, more farmers would have benefited as a large section of them have already sold their produce,” said Basavaraj Ingin, President of the Pulses Growers Association of Karnataka.

The Centre recently opened up exports of pulses and has also placed curbs on import of lentils. However, the impact of the government’s moves are yet to reflect in the price trends, Ingin said.

Arrival pressures seen

“Prices seemed to have broadly bottomed out as all negativities have been factored in. However, arrival pressures could keep prices under check. Demand could pick up in the days ahead as stock pipelines are almost empty,” said Amit Bharadwaj, CEO of Level A Commodities, an advisory firm.

TN Prakash Kammaradi, Chairman, Karnataka Agricultural Prices Commission, said the impact of demonetisation, which has left the inventory management of traders in disarray, is also seen as a reason for depressed prices. Traders have become cautious and are resorting to need-based buying.