Anticipating higher output of tur (pigeon pea) and urad (black matpe) in 2022, Myanmar pulses exporters want the Indian Government to enhance its annual import quota for these. Last year, India - the largest producer and consumer of pulses - had signed a five-year memorandum of understanding with Myanmar to annually import 2.5 lakh tonnes of urad and one lakh tonnes of tur from the neighbouring country. According to the Overseas Agro Traders Association (OATA) Myanmar, the pulses exporters association based in Yangon, production of tur in Myanmar is seen more than doubling to around 2.5 lakh tonnes, while urad crop size is seen higher by around eight per cent at 6.75 lakh tonnes in 2022.

“We would like to urge the governments of India and Myanmar to consider doubling of import quantities for tur and urad under the MoU,” said Vatsal Lilani, President, OATA Myanmar, at a recent webinar on the outlook for tur and urad in Myanmar. “If the quotas are not increased to five lakh tonnes for urad and two lakh tonnes for tur by the Indian Government, it’s possible that farmers switch over to other cash crops that have a ready market across Myanmar’s land borders. If the Indian demand in subsequent years is for larger tonnages and they are not available we could see meteoric price rises,” Lilani said.

‘An important step’

Nidhi Khare, Additional. Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs said “Myanmar is a very important partner when it comes to supplying urad and tur. It has been contributing to 69 per cent and 98 per cent of the total imports in 2019-20 and 2020-21. We are dependent on import because there is a huge demand supply gap. The five-year MoU is an important step towards a stable and predictable import policy with respect to pulses and assured availability irrespective of short-term policy changes and adjustments.”

Hitesh Jain from AGT Foods and Secretary for OATA Myanmar said every policy India makes on urad will have a direct impact on the farmers in Myanmar. This year urad production is expected to be higher by 50,000 tonnes or more compared with last year as the sowing increased, which means the estimated production for 2022 would be around 675,000 tonnes. With the Indian Government extending the OGL regime till March 31, 2022, and the Myanmar harvest being around the corner, it will be interesting to see how markets react in both the countries The increase in MoU quota would ensure that farmers do not shift to other crops as to wean them back would be difficult, he said.

Lalit Pant of Viterra India said urad production in India this year was expected to be around 27.50 lakh tonnes production (in accordance with first advance estimates) but given the possible crop damage due to excessive rains during harvest, the production could be similar to last year. India’s annual requirement stands between 30 to 33 lakh tonnes creating a gap between supply and demand leaving room for import.

Nitin Kalantri of Kalantri Food Products said the production of tur, which has been impacted by excess rains this year, is likely to be lower by 15-20 per cent. The Agriculture Ministry in its first Advance Estimate have estimated the tur crop to be in the range of 44.30 lakh tonnes.

Kalantri said the India’s total annual consumption of tur is around 39 to 40 lakh tonnes, which is met through domestic production and imports. “As of now, India has imported around five lakh tonnes out of which around 3 lakh tonnes have been consumed. So, we have 38 lakh tonnes of this year’s production plus 1.50 lakh tonnes of carryover with NAFED, 1.20 to 1.30 lakh tones carryover with private players and around 1.75 lakh to 2 lakh tonnes on imports expected from Myanmar by end-June. Currently, the farmers are among the biggest stockists and we do not expect the farmer to sell tur at distress prices.” Kalantri further said that tur prices are expected to be in the range of ₹5,700-6,500 per quintal.

Anant Chhajed of Swiss Singapore Overseas Enterprise said the expected opening stock of tur is around 10,000 tonnes and production during the year will be around 2.5 lakh tonnes.

Myanmar mainly depends on India for tur exports with very little quantity being exported to Nepal, UAE and others. A more consistent import policy from India will definitely help production in Myanmar and the five-year MoU will help the bilateral trade as well by providing stability to the trade. “There is a demand deficit in the India numbers, so, the governments of India and Myanmar must consider increasing the quantity in the MoU for tur and it should be at least around two lakh tonnes since increasing the quantity and MOU also helps Indian Government in controlling retail inflation,” he said.