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Pulses import grew 20 per cent to 5.67 million tonnes in FY17

With record high production of 22.14 million tonnes, availability increased by 27.8 mn tonnes

Rajesh Bhayani  |  Mumbai 

Pulses
Pulses

A record high crop output, along with record imports, has created a mayhem in pulses market, with farmers unable to sell pulses even at the minimum support price announced by the government. In FY17, the total import if pulses increased 19.9 per cent to 5.67 million tonnes, which, along with 22.14 million tonnes of crop, has improved the availability for the year by around 27.8 million tonnes, against the average normal consumption of 24 million tonnes.

At the end of March, the government had imposed a 10 per cent import duty on tur. However, it did not much help farmers, as by that time 4.47 million tonnes of imported tur/arhar had arrived in India. But the importers in the Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA) want the government to relax stock limit for pulses and allow exports.

Data compiled by IPGA from clearing/forwarding agents show that the highest increase in import took place in last two quarters, when two-thirds of total pulses were imported. FY16 was an unusual year for pulses, as domestic crop was much lower, at 16.35 million tonnes, due to drought.

An importer of pulses said: "Import contracts are finalised much more in advance, so imported commodity arrived when domestic crop arrivals also started resulting in lower prices in the domestic market.”

Of the total imports, over half of the import was of Yellow Peas (Matar) at 2.93 million tonnes, up 58 per cent from previous year. The import of chana stood at 880,000 tonnes. The problem in tur, which is in the eye of a storm, was nearly 40 per cent of the total annual import (447,000 tonnes) only in the December quarter. Tur/Arhar imports fell in the March 2017 quarter by 24 per cent following a good crop. India’s total tur crop in 2016-17 is estimated at 4.23 million tonnes, and hence the total imported tur is only a little over 10 per cent. 

Incidentally, even government agencies that were given the target to procure 2 million tonnes of pulses in 2016-17, including kharif and rabi, have completed kharif procurement and the biggest agency has now suspended buying at MSP.

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