Good monsoon and the rise in acreage of pulses could spell cheer for consumers soon as their prices have reduced by around 40-50% in all the major markets in Maharashtra over the past few days.
However, farmers are not happy with the development as they fear that there could be a further downslide in prices. Adding to their woes, moong dal is currently selling below minimum support price (MSP) level.
Two consecutive years of drought had led to the rise in prices of pulses in the country causing the government to encourage the import of pulses. However, as on date, industry experts have urged the government to intervene and begin a purchase programme to prevent a further downslide in rates.
Acreage of pulses has more than doubled across the country and with good rains there is anticipation of a good crop, which has resulted in the price slide, said Hukumchand Kalantry, president, Latur Dal Millers Association. Latur has over 125 dal mills and the average turnover exceeds 200 truckloads on a daily basis.
According to Kalantry, moong dal is currently being sold at Rs 60 per kg in wholesale markets as against Rs 100 per kg just a month ago. Urad dal, which was being sold at Rs 150 per kg, has now come down to Rs 85 per kg and tur dal has dropped down to Rs 75 per kg from Rs 130 per kg.
The government has declared an MSP of Rs 5,225 per quintal for moong dal and it is being sold below Rs 4,000 per quintal, Kalantry said. In Akola, the prices of tur dal have dropped by nearly Rs 2,125 per quintal in the past month, he said, adding that farmers were getting Rs 6,500 to Rs 7,500 per quintal in July.
“There have been good rains across the country, including in the pulse growing regions. Moreover, the acreage of pulses has gone up due to special campaigns run by the government and also anticipation of good prices by farmers. The government needs to step in immediately and begin purchase of pulses at MSP so that farmers get their due,” Kalantry said.
The tur crop is expected to hit the market in December and if the rates continue to slide down, it will not be good for farmers who will shift to other crops, he warned.
Ashok Agarwal, vice-president of the association, agrees and says that over production has led to the price fall. To a certain extent, the price fall is good for consumers but in the long term the government needs to intervene and ensure that there is no further downslide, he said. Moong dal has recently been harvested. Its prices have gone down as the crop has high moisture content, he said. Moreover, there are no buyers in anticipation of a good production this year, Agarwal said.
Like their counterparts in other states, farmers in Maharashtra — lured by the high market prices — have planted pulses like moong and tur in more area this year. As against a usual acreage of 21 lakh hectares, pulses have been sown on some 25 lakh hectares. As per the latest figures released by the agriculture ministry, the area under tur has gone up to 59.89 lakh hectares as against 33.49 lakh hectares last season. The total area under pulses has gone up by 30-35% to 136 lakh hectares as against 100 lakh hectares last year.
Around 200 lakh tonne of pulses are expected this season and the country’s consumption is around 240 lakh tonne. Kalantry has also urged the government to impose import duty on pulses to stem a price fall.