After building up close to two million tonne buffer stock of pulses , the government will now allocate the lentils to states as well as the paramilitary forces and the army besides selling a chunk in the open market. The move will also ensure enough storage space for rabi crops, sources said. According to officials, the three agencies — FCI, SFAC and Nafed has purchased more 1.4 million tonne (MT) of kharif pulses like moong, urad and tur or arhar so far from farmers and trading agencies have imported around 4 lakh tonne of pulses for creation of buffer stocks. “As pulses can’t be stored beyond six months or so, we have decided to rotate the stocks so that there would enough storage space for fresh procurement for the rabi season.” an official told FE.
While the states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu etc have written to the food ministry for allocations of pulses, which would be purchased by state agencies, the negotiations have been completed with officials of the paramilitary forces like BSF, ITBP and army for supply of pulses from the government’s buffer stocks. While Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have requested for 10,000 and 5,000 tonne of monthly pulses purchases which would be distributed to poor families through the Public Distribution System, the annual requirement of army and paramilitary forces is in the range of 60,000 – 70,000 tonne.
Recently, Nafed sold around 75,000 tonne of tur or arhar in the open market through commodity bourse NCDEX. Meanwhile, the food ministry has asked farmers’ cooperative, Nafed to continue with its kharif procurement operations for arhar, a key pulse variety which is generally expensive, till April 22. Currently, arhar is being procured by Nafed in key production states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Gujarat. So far, Nafed has purchased close to a million tonne of arhar for buffer stocks.
Meanwhile, the retail prices of arhar, urad and moong have seen a sharp decline to Rs 75-80 per kg from Rs 120-140 per kg six months ago. The current situation is in sharp contrast to what was prevailing earlier when prices of pulses, especially arhar and urad, skyrocketed. It forced the government to step up imports and announce abolition of import duties and creation of buffer stocks.
In expectation of a bumper rabi harvest, the Centre had recently imposed a 10% import duty for pulses. Chana, which accounts for more than 40% of the country’s total pulses production has started to arrive in mandis in key growing states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. According to second advance estimate released recently by agriculture ministry, the pulse production during 2016-17 crop year (July-June) is expected to increase by more than 35% to 22.14 MT compared to previous year’s output of 16.35 MT.