India offers welfare schemes 35 lakh tonnes of pulses at subsidised prices

The Indian government is all set to will provide 35 lakh tonnes of pulses to welfare schemes at discounted prices, as the world’s biggest producer tries to dispose of its surplus output.

The Indian government will offer pulses at a discount of 15 rupees per kg to state governments for schemes such as a mid-day meal run for school children, the government said in a statement.

India will spend Rs.5,237 crore to provide chickpeas, pigeon peas, black matpe, green gram and lentils at a subsidised price for 12 months, it said.

State-run agencies have procured a record 4.54 million tonnes of pulses from farmers in 2017/18 after prices plunged below state-mandated prices due to bumper production.

Moreover, ahead of the festival season, the government is also planning to release some stock of chana in the market to ease its availability and keep a check on prices.

Poor availability of chana since the past one month has kept prices firm at Rs 4,240 per quintal in the Delhi market. In wholesale, Chana dal was being quoted at Rs 4,800-5,000 a quintal.

National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (Nafed), the nodal agency for the government’s pulses procurement drive says that it is monitoring the price movement and will soon take a call to release the pulses the demand for which picks up during the festival season.

“We have 27 lakh tonne of chana in our godowns out of the 45 lakh tonne of pulses procured. We are watching the situation on prices and will soon take a call on when and how much to sell,” said an official from Nafed.

The government has been trying to create storage space for summer-sown crops that will be harvested from next month.

India has restricted imports of pulses to help prop-up local prices, hitting suppliers like Canada, Australia and Russia. Due to these restrictions, imports of pulses could fall nearly 80 percent to 12 lakh tonnes during the financial year that started in April, the lowest since 2000/01, industry officials estimate.

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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