Prices of pulses continued to rule high at up to Rs 200 per kg, while two key vegetables – tomato and potato – stayed costly at up to Rs 80 and Rs 35/kg despite multi-pronged efforts by authorities to check the rise.
While pulses prices have soared due to shortfall of supply by over 7 million tonnes, the production of tomato and potato has also been affected due to drought.
Wheat prices have also moved up in the last few weeks but government today decided to extend the 25 per cent import duty on wheat, betting on its estimates of 9 per cent rise in domestic output.
According to Consumer Affairs Ministry data, the maximum price of urad dal was Rs 196 per kg and tur Rs 166 per kg. Chana dal price also threatened to cross Rs 100 per kg and was ruling at Rs 95 per kg. Moong and Masoor dals were being sold at Rs 125 and Rs 100 per kg respectively.
Government has taken several steps to control prices of pulses that include enhancing the buffer stock to 8 lakh tonnes from 1.5 lakh tonnes, increasing imports, barring launch of any fresh future contracts in ‘chana’ and directing enforcement agencies to act against hoarders.
The Centre is also exploring possibility of growing pulses through contract farming in some African countries and importing back.
Production of pulses is estimated to have declined to 17 million tonnes in 2015-16 crop year (July-June) due to drought as against annual domestic demand of 24 million tonnes.
The country imported about 5.5 million tonnes of pulses, largely through private traders, last fiscal.
Among vegetables, prices of tomatoes were as high as Rs 80 per kg, while potatoes were being sold up to Rs 35 per kg.
On tomato prices, Agriculture Secretary Shobhana K Pattanayak said it is a “temporary phenomenon” and rates would cool down soon with the arrival of fresh crops.
“This is a lean season for tomato. The price rise is a temporary phenomenon and it will phase out soon. In Delhi, there is no issue as tomatoes from hilly areas have started arriving,” he told PTI.
Wholesale prices of tomato, which were ruling as high as Rs 60/kg in Azadpur Mandi two days back, today fell by up to Rs 20 per kg to Rs 40/kg, although retail prices are still ruling at Rs 50-80/kg depending on the quality and locality.
The government is exploring the feasibility of contract farming of pulses in African countries — Mozambique, Tanzania and Malawi — as it looks for a long-term solution to domestic shortage and high prices.
A delegation may visit Mozambique to examine the possibility of growing pulses through contract farming, a senior government official said.
In view of rising prices of wheat and wheat flour, the Food Ministry had discussed with the Finance Ministry the option of scrapping the import duty on it to boost supply.
However, the government has maintained the import duty at 25 per cent in view of higher production estimates.
“25 per cent import duty on wheat has been continued further,” Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said in a tweet.
As per the Agriculture Ministry’s third advance estimate, wheat output has risen to 94.05 million tonnes in the 2015-16 crop year (July-June) from 86.53 million tonnes in the previous year.