Tur from buffer stock to be sold in open market

By Sandip Das

After imposing stock holding limits on tur earlier this month, the government has now decided to sell the pulses variety in the open market from the buffer stock to bulk buyers. The sales will be via e-auction and in a calibrated and targetted manner, official sources said.

The move is part of several measures being taken to curb food inflation, which continues to be elevated. Last month, the government reduced the import duties on refined edible oils – soyabean, sunflower and palm – by 5 percentage points to ease imports. It also maintains a “low” tariff of 5.5% on crude edible oil imports.

Officials told FE with tur prices which have risen sharply since beginning of the year, the department of consumer affairs have asked farmers’ cooperative NAFED and National Cooperative Consumer Federation to sell tur in the open market from the buffer stock currently estimated at 0.15 million tonne (MT).

Modal retail prices of tur on Tuesday rose to Rs 120/kg from Rs 110 prevailed three months back. However, tur retail prices in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru were Rs 148, Rs 147 and Rs 156, respectively, on Tuesday, according to the price monitoring cell of department of consumer affairs. It rose from a range of Rs 117-136 per kg prevailed three month back.

The move to sell buffer stock in the market, sources said, is to improve domestic supplies and curb prices till August, when the harvest from African countries – Mozambique and Malawi – is expected to arrive in the country.

“The quantities being auctioned and the frequency will be calibrated on the basis of the assessed impact of the disposal on the availability of tur to consumers at affordable prices,” according to an official statement.

The tur prices are elevated since December 2022, following the reports of a possible decline in kharif output because of unseasonal rains in October last year had adversely impacted standing crops in the key producing state of Maharashtra

Currently, the kharif tur crop is being shown across the key growing states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and others, and is likely to be harvested only by January 2024.

Retail inflation in tur was 16.78% in May 2023 and it has been in the double-digit number since December 2022.

The agriculture ministry has estimated an 18.3% decline in tur output for 2022-23 (July-June) at 3.4 million tonne (MT), however, the trade sources have pegged it at 2.7-2.8 MT for the year.

On June 2, to curb hoarding and speculation amid rising prices, the government had imposed limits on the stocks of tur and urad dal.

The stock limit is applicable to a range of entities such as wholesalers to retailers, millers and importers and its effective till October 31. The order has also made it mandatory for these entities to declare the stock position on the portal of the department of consumer affairs.

The government recently had removed the procurement ceiling of 40% of total marketable surplus for tur, urad and masoor under the price support scheme.

Last month, the department of consumer affairs asked pulse importers to expedite shipment of tur and urad varieties from Myanmar to improve domestic supplies.

Under the bilateral agreement signed in 2021, India has committed to import 0.1 MT of tur annually from Myanmar between 2021-22 and 2025-26.

India signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Mozambique for import of 0.2 MT of tur annually for five years when the retail prices of the pulses variety skyrocketed to `200 a kg in 2016. This MoU was extended for another five years in September 2021.

In 2021, India entered into an MoU with Malawi for the import of 0.05 MT tur per annum till 2025. Imports from all the least developed countries and non-LDC countries are exempted from import duties.

This article has been republished from The Financial Express

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