Bringing cheers to consumers, the retail prices of key agricultural commodities such as pulses, potato, onion and tomato across major metro cities have declined significantly so far this year compared to the year-ago period, primarily due to normal monsoon last year and higher sowing by farmers. According to department of consumer affairs data, the sharpest fall in retail prices is seen in case of pulses such as tur or arhar and urad, mainly because of bumper production in the current (2016-17) crop year (July-June).
Even prices of rice and wheat in last one year have remained stable while key agricultural commodities such as potato, onion and tomato have seen fall, thus bringing cheers to consumers. The pulses production during 2016-17, is estimate to be at a record 22.4 million tonne (MT) which is around 37% more than the previous year.
Especially tur or arhar output has increased by close to 80% to 4.6 MT in the current year in comparison to last year.
The retail prices of arhar have seen a sharp fall across metros to around Rs 74-86 per kg from Rs 140-160 per kg prevailed six months back. Because of tur, wholesale prices fell below minimum support price of Rs 5,050 per quintal announced for Kharif 2016, the government assigned three agencies — FCI, NAFED and SFAC to procure tur from farmers, first time in many years.
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.
At present, the retail prices of urad has seen sharp fall because of higher output. In expectation of a bumper rabi harvest, recently the Centre had 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. In case of key vegetables such as onion, potato and tomato, the prices have softened significantly. The wholesale prices of onion at Nasik, the hub of country’s wholesale trade has dropped to around Rs 4 per quintal. Experts say that lower prices of agricultural commodities would help the government in inflation control.
However, former agriculture secretary and chairman and managing director of Food Corporation of India, Siraj Hussain, said that while consumers are getting benefits of lower prices of agricultural commodities, farmers have been suffering because of market imperfection. “The farmers should get value for their crops sown so that supplies are sustained in future,” he told FE.