Farmers in India urge the government to restrict import as tur plantation acreage is on rise

As a larger area comes under tur or arhar (red gram) in the ongoing kharif sowing season, growers anticipate higher output and want the government to curb all forms of imports to keep prices stable during the harvest season.

The acreage under tur as on August 3 has exceeded the year-ago period’s levels as farmers have brought a larger area in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, among others, under cultivation. The acreage has been marginally lower in Maharashtra and Gujarat, where erratic rainfall patterns had impacted planting.

While the acreage under tur and moong has seen a rise, the area under all pulses has been trailing the year-ago figure by around four per cent at around 75 lakh hectares. Tur accounts for over half the acreage under pulses.

The government had aggressively procured pulses in the 2017-18 marketing season and the current tur stocks with NAFED are around 5.4 lakh tonnes.

India’s pulses production is around 24.51 million tonnes for 2017-18, as per the third advanced estimates released in May, which is higher than the 23.13 million tonnes produced in the previous year.

Ample stocks of the pulse have led to a bearish trend in prices, says the trade. Across major markets in the key producing States of Karnataka and Maharashtra, tur prices are hovering between Rs.3,500 and Rs.3,800 a quintal, much lower than the minimum support price (MSP), on ample supplies.

The government has announced an MSP of Rs.5,675 a quintal for the 2018 kharif marketing season, while the support price, including the bonus, stood at Rs.5,450 for the previous year.

While the government had committed to import pulses from African nations when domestic supplies were down, there’s a need to review the situation now, farmers have petitioned to the government.

The pulses growers have sought the Prime Minister’s intervention in this regard. The Centre has already hiked the duty on pulses such as yellow peas, chana and masur, which has made the imports unviable, trade sources said.

Shekhar Ghosh is a communications consultant and and former journalist, who has edited and written for publications such as like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today and Outlook.

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