Tough grind: Incessant rains push up urad prices

Vishwanath Kulkarni Bengaluru | Updated on November 20, 2019

Retail prices cross ₹100/kg mark; output may decline 30-40%


Idly and dosa are set to turn dearer owing to an expected decline in production of urad, a key ingredient that goes into the preparation of these dishes.

Retail prices of urad dal have shot up over the past one month crossing the ₹100 per kg mark after the recent incessant rains shrunk the crop size in key producing States such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, trade sources said.

Suresh Agarwal, President of the Indore-based All India Dal Mills Association, said the urad crop has been badly hit in Madhya Pradesh due to incessant rains. “There is a 50 per cent damage to the crop in MP,” Agarwal added. Also in UP, the areas around Jhansi and Lalitpur, where urad is grown, have been impacted due to heavy rains. In Gujarat, the crop has been hit in Rajkot, Porbandar, Junagadh and Bhavnagar.

“Overall, there has been a widespread impact on the crop across the country and we expect a 30-35 per cent decline,” Agarwal said. About 35-40 per cent of the crop is good and the quality has been impacted in another 30 per cent of the crop, he said.

What’s with urad

The quality-hit urad is fetching between ₹3,000 amd ₹6,000 per quintal in the mandis of MP, whereas the good quality urad is fetching between ₹7,000 and ₹8,000, Agarwal said.

Over two-thirds of the country’s urad crop is produced during the kharif season, with rabi accounting for the rest. Total urad crop, during 2018-19, stood at 3.26 million tonnes, as per the Fourth Advance Estimates of the Agriculture Ministry. For the current 2019-20, the Ministry in its first advance estimates released on September 23, had pegged the kharif crop size at 2.43 mt, marginally lower than 2.56 mt in the previous year. After factoring in the crop losses that occurred largely due to the extended monsoon this year, the Ministry’s crop estimates may see a downward correction going forward, sources said.

“The urad crop is badly affected due to the incessant monsoon and the post-monsoon rains resulting in a price increase,” said Bimal Kothari, vice chairman of the Indian Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA). “We hear that there is a crop damage of 40-50 per cent this year,” he added.

Faced with a lower crop and rising price trend, the pulses trade and the dal mills have urged the Centre to remove curbs on the import of urad. “We have already written to the Government requesting permission to import 1 lakh tonnes of urad,” Agarwal said.

Similarly, the IPGA has urged the Centre to allow additional quota for import of both urad and moong bean in view of the shortage of pulses in the country, Kothari said.

Besides India, Myanmar is the only other country where about 5 lakh tonnes of urad is produced annually. “Myanmar has a stock of 1-1.5 lakh tonnes and its new crop will be harvested from February,” Kothari said.

The trade feels urad prices are likely to remain firm going ahead. “We are concerned about availability of urad as the crop in major producing states has been hit. Though there will a crop in Andhra in the next few months, it will be a small crop of 300,000-400,000 tonnes,” Kothari said.

Moong,too, rises

RC Lahoti, President of Pulses and Grain Traders Association, said the wholesale prices of urad dal have moved up by ₹30 a kg, while moong prices were up by ₹5-10 per kg because of the crop damage.

While urad and moong prices have moved up, prices of toor, a widely consumed pulses crop, are range-bound. “The crop condition of toor is good as the rains have helped the crop. We expect harvest from December 15 onwards and hope there are no more rains,” said Santosh Langar, a pulses miller in Gulbarga.

Basavaraj Ingin, President of Karnataka Pulses Growers Association, said the condition of the toor crop is good and the crop may be delayed by about a month, due to delayed planting.


Published on November 20, 2019

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