To augment domestic supplies, which would curb a spike in prices, the government has decided to import around 5,000 tonne of pulses through state-owned trading firm MMTC.
Sources told FE that in a meeting of the committee of secretaries (CoS), a decision to import a ‘token’ amount of pulses has been taken. “We are at present aiming at importing arhar and moong, whose retail prices have been rising in the last few months,” an official said.
The official said that MMTC would shortly float tenders for the import of pulses. After getting a response, the government will consider importing higher quantity pulses during the next few months. One of the possibilities being discussed is to use a portion of the dedicated corpus of R500 crore under the Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF).
The government had on Wednesday stated that it would import lentils on a “large scale’’ to boost domestic supply and also asked states to take action against hoarders.
Measures to increase the import of pulses and action against hoarders were taken in a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Following the government’s announcement to import pulses, there was a marginal decline in the wholesale price of pulses in the Delhi on Thursday.
Traders said prices have started to soften, after stocks were gradually released following an improvement in supplies, after the government’s decision to import.
In the Delhi market, wholesale moong dal prices fell by around R50 to around R7,050 per quintal. Official sources said the government wants to give a signal to traders against the possible hoarding of pulses by announcing its decision to increase the import of pulses.
The country’s pulses production is estimated to have fallen to 17.38 million tonnes (mt) in 2014-15 from 19.25 mt in the previous crop year, due to a deficient monsoon last year and unseasonal rains and hailstorms witnessed in March this year. Also, this year, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has stated that the monsoon rains would be 88% of the long period average (LPA) for the entire country.
India usually imports about 4 million tonnes of pulses through private trade to meet the domestic shortfall.