Rising concerns over rotting might push India to offload more pulses in the market


India, the world’s biggest consumer of lentils, is likely to sell about 1 million tonnes of pulses domestically to avoid its stockpiles rotting in warehouses, as dramatic price swings have become a politically sensitive issue.

The government is attempting to sell the reserves in the open market as well as to some states, and considering selling the stored pulses to the railways and the miltary, official sources were reported as saying.

That would account for about half of the total inventories held by the world’s largest consumer of lentils..

Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said last week that the government may sell 700,000 tonnes of pulses from its reserves. Others said

India currently has a buffer stock of about 2 million tonnes of pulses, including around 379,000 tonnes of imported grains. The stock was built by the government in 2016-17 as part of its efforts to keep a buffer to beat shortages after two straight years of drought.

However, production of pulses surged 40 per cent from a year earlier to an all-time high of 22.95 million tonnes in 2016-17 after higher state-set minimum purchase prices encouraged farmers to increase the crop area, according to the ministry of agriculture.

The wholesale price index of pulses has fallen 34% from its November 2016 level when it climbed to the highest since the start of a new series in April 2011, according to the commerce ministry.

The government will continue to purchase pulses from the local market to support farmers and consumers, if required, officials said.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.


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