High import of Tur dal stabilizes retail price in India

Easing of import policy on pulses has resulted in record import of tur (arhar) dal. More than five lakh tonne of tur dal has been imported till December 31, 2021. The total imports are likely to cross 6.5 lakh tonnes by March-end as against 4.42 lakh tonne in 2020-21. This has resulted in stabilization of retail prices of Tur, as the kharif crop has started to arrive in mandis in key growing states.

During the current fiscal, India met about 10-12% of its domestic consumption through imports. In anticipation of a domestic shortfall in output, in May 2021, the country put imports of tur, urad and moong in the ‘open’ category from ‘restricted’ till March 2022.

In 2016, when the retail prices of tur dal skyrocketed to Rs 200 a kg, India signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Mozambique for the import of two lakh tonnes of tur annually for five years. The MoU was extended for another five years in September 2021. India has also entered into MoUs with Malawi and Myanmar for the import of 50,000 tonnes and 1 lakh tonnes of tur per annum, respectively, till 2025.

Mandi prices for the kharif crop are currently around Rs 6,300 per quintal, which is the minimum support price (MSP) announced by the government for kharif 2021-22. The anticipated yield losses in key growing regions of Karnataka and Maharashtra due to unseasonal rain in October last year have not pushed up prices because of higher stocks from imports.

However, as per the first advance estimates of foodgrain production released by the ministry of agriculture in September 2021, India’s tur production is estimated at a record 44.3 million tonnes in the 2021-22 crop year (July-June). Meanwhile, the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) has started registering farmers in Karnataka and Maharashtra for procurement of tur under MSP operations. NAFED is mandated to keep 2.1 million tonnes of pulses as buffer stock, which is subsequently released in the open market to curb price rise.

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