There has been a sharp increase in the retail prices of pulses — tur, urad, moong and masoor — in the last one year while the prices of foodgrains, edible oil and vegetables such as potato, onion and tomato have seen less volatility across the major cities.
According to an FE analysis of retail prices prevailing in key metros such as Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai, moong dal has seen biggest jump in prices to R103 and R122 per kg in Delhi and Kolkata respectively from R80 and R105 per kg prevailed a year back.
Even the prices of other pulses such as tur or arhar, urad and masoor have seen an increase in the range of 15% to 30% in the last one year.
Experts say that prices have increased due to possibility of lower production in the current year. Meanwhile, the government has extended the time for duty-free imports of pulses till March, 2015 as the country imports about 3 million tonne of pulses annually.
In case of rice and wheat, retail prices have not seen sharp spike as there is ample stocks held with the government agencies and private traders.
In fact, paddy prices in the current kharif marketing season have declined by around 20% while corresponding rice prices has not seen sharp fall.
“While the farm gate prices of paddy have declined this year, it has not lead to lower retail prices which implies that margins for traders have increased in the last one year,” Ajay Jakhar, chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj, told FE.
In case of edible oil, the mustard oil prices have seen around 15% spike in the last one year while palm oil prices have not seen volatility because of stable global prices. India imports about half of its edible oil consumption estimated at around 19 million tonne in the current fiscal. The country imports palm and soyabean oil from Malaysia and Indonesia.
The retail prices of potato and onion have not seen large scale spike while tomato prices have increased sharply in the last one year.
“We have ample stocks of potato and onion while spike in tomato prices is temporary,” an official with department of consumer affairs said.
Meanwhile, RBI has stated that seasonal increase in vegetable prices, which typically sets in around March, have to be ‘monitored carefully’. The apex bank also stated that the retail inflation is likely to be around the target level of 6% by January 2016.
The government in July last year had imposed stock holding limits on onions & potatoes under Essential Commodities Act, empowering the state governments to impose limits on stocking of these vegetables by traders.