India’s lentils output may rise on higher yield, says trade.

The production of masur (lentils) will likely increase this crop year (July 2023-June 2024) with favourable weather supporting the crop despite the acreage trailing marginally till mid-December compared with the year-ago period.

The India Pulse and Grains Association (IPGA), in its latest market update, said the forthcoming domestic masur crop is projected to have higher yields due to favourable weather conditions in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, the key producing States. The upcoming crop period of December-January is crucial for plant growth and the yield potential hinges on the soil moisture availability. ‘If nothing goes wrong on the weather front, we should have a crop of 16.5-17 lakh tonnes, higher than last year’s 15.5 lakh tonnes,’ said Bimal Kothari, Chairman, IPGA.

Sowing down a tad

At the rabi outlook webinar of Friday, Manek Gupta, Managing Director, Viterra India Pvt Ltd, said crop conditions in most growing areas were pretty good and that the expectation was yields of lentils may be higher and the crop could be higher by 5-10 per cent this year. ‘We can look at crop of 16.5 lakh tonnes or in that vicinity,’ he said.

Per the Agriculture Ministry data, sowing of lentils has taken place on 16.75 lakh hectares (lh) as of December 15, marginally lower than the same period last year’s 16.84 lh.

‘The expected acreage this year is 18.5-19 lh, almost similar to last year. Farmers have received healthy prices and the minimum support price has been increased by 10 per cent. All the signals have gone to the farmers and that they should be planting more,’ Gupta said.

Higher MSP

The Government has increased the MSP of lentils to ?6,425 per quintal for the rabi marketing season 2023-24, up from the previous year’s ?6,000. However, the current prices are ruling around ?5,800-5,900 levels. ‘There is 3.5 months for harvest. We really need to see how prices will be move between now and the harvest window,’ he said.

The Government has bought almost half a million tonnes of lentils from the trade. According to the estimates, the government is holding stocks of 6.5 lakh tonnes of lentils. From a supply and price perspective, the government will be an important player in the lentils market, Gupta said. ‘Last year, the government bought 1.5 lakh tonnes from the farmers and this year they will probably buy more considering how much lower the price is compared to the MSP,’ he said.

Rahul Chauhan of Igrain India also said that the lentils crop condition is good and that we can see a production of over 14 lakh tonnes. Due to the huge increase in imports of lentils and also due to last year’s good crop, the market is range-bound, Chauhan said.

Kothari said the lentils imports this year have been more than a million tonnes. The monthly consumption of lentils is about 2 lakh tonnes, Kothari said, adding that the supply situation was comfortable.

This article has been republished from The Hindu Business Line

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