India allows 650,000 tonnes of pulse imports in FY20

India has issued a combined 650,000 tonne import quota for pulses for the fiscal year to March 2020, Reuters reported citing a government order, allowing overseas purchases of protein-rich pulse varieties.

Two straight years of drought pushed up pulse prices in 2015 and forced New Delhi to allow duty-free imports. But record imports of 6.6 million tonnes in the 2016/17 fiscal year led to a crash in local prices.

As part of its efforts to curb imports, the government started fixing import quotas in 2018.

India is the world’s biggest producer and consumer of pulses, and mainly consumes varieties such as yellow peas, green gram and chickpeas (chana).

Production of chana is lower by about 8 to 10 per cent this season in the country, according to trade estimates. According to dal mills, supply of chana is less in market as compared to a year ago in the same period because output of chana is less in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

Traders and agriculturalists say that India’s domestic stockpile of pulses could deplete to critical levels by the end of this year and the country will be back into the market to restore its supplies. This, according to an official of Australian pulse growers’ body, will create an opportunity for Australia to capitalise on the situation following strict import tariffs, reports Press Trust of India.

India, in 2017, implemented a number of tariffs on imported chick peas, a 30 per cent duty, and lentils in a bid to protect domestic production.

“Their stockpile is diminishing. By the time we come around to the end of our season, India will be back into the market to restore their supplies, and we hope Australia can be a part of that equation,” Pulse Australia chief executive Nick Goddard was quoted in a media report. Pulse Australia is a peak industry body that represents all sectors of the pulse industry, from growers and agronomists through to researchers, merchants, traders and exporters.

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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