Centre bars pulses traders from holding imported stocks beyond a month

By Puja Das

The government has asked pulses traders, especially tur (arhar or pigeon pea) and urad (black gram), to not hold imported stocks beyond one month from the date of custom clearance. This comes as the backdrop of tur prices skyrocketing amid tight supply in the domestic market.

Though the disclosure of pulses, especially tur has increased, prices are on the upward trend because of lower production of the pulses crop in 2022-23 (July-June) crop year. The industry estimates tur production to be 2.5-2.8 million tonnes (MT) in the current season. However, as per the government’s second advance estimates, output of tur in 2022-23 season is pegged at 3.6 MT as against 4.2 MT last year. Domestic consumption of tur, at present, is around 4.3-4.4 MT.

Fair average quality (FAQ) tur prices have gone up to ₹8,450-10,000 a quintal (as of 18 May) from ₹6,100-7,360 per quintal (as of 30 December) in key wholesale markets of Maharashtra’s Akola and Karnataka’s Gulbarga or Kalaburagi. In the case of urad, prices in the markets of Guntur, a key wholesale market in Andhra Pradesh have shot up to ₹7,800-8,200 per quintal from ₹6,500-7,000 a quintal during the same period, data by the agriculture ministry’s agmarknet portal showed.

 The government fixed the minimum support price of both tur and urad in 2022-23 kharif season at ₹6,600 a quintal, ₹300 higher than a year before.

All-India average tur dal at the retail level is currently priced at ₹119.27 a kilogram (kg) as against ₹111.62 per kg on 30 December, while all-India average urad dal prices are at ₹109.47 a kg at the retail level as compared with ₹107.39 as on 30 December, according to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs’ price monitoring division data.

The Department of Consumer Affairs on 27 March formed a committee to monitor the stock of tur held by importers, millers, traders, and other such entities. It had also directed states to take strict actions against entities not disclosing their stocks regularly.

Indian import companies have reportedly hoarded around 100,000 tonnes of tur and about 500,000 tonnes of urad in Myanmar to book profit.

Tur and urad account for two-thirds of the total kharif pulses production and have a share of over 70% in India’s pulses import basket. I India is heavily dependent on imports to meet its domestic pulses consumption. India imports most of its tur dal from Myanmar and East African nations such as Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania among others, while urad dal is mostly purchased from Myanmar and to some extent from United Arab Emirates.

Additionally, the Centre has directed states and union territories to ensure stock disclosure by importers on the consumer affairs department’s portal every Friday and be strict with the importers who are not disclosing their tur (whole and split) and urad (whole and split) stocks and holding stocks beyond 30 days from the date of customs clearance.

The department has also asked the pulses trade body Indian Pulses and Grains Association to inform all its members to strict abide by the above advisory.

This article has been republished from The Mint

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