NEW DELHI: The government has stepped up efforts to avoid surge in prices of pulses this year. Till now total imports and domestic procurement of pulses have increased by around 1.6 million tonnes.
While another 16,000-17,000 tonnes are likely to reach Indian ports in the next two months for which contracts have been signed, the government has floated tenders for importing one more tranche of 10,000 tonnes.
The consumer affairs ministry has now asked the state governments to project their demands for pulses so that timely release from buffer stocks can be ensured.
“While private players have procured one more million tonnes of pulses this year — from 4.5 million tonnes last year to 5.5 million tonnes this year — we have procured 50,000 tonnes from domestic market. Import of 25,000 tonnes by government agencies has been contracted,” said a consumer affairs ministry official.
Already the state governments have been empowered to impose stock limits on pulses and enforce them to ensure availability and check hoarding.
These steps are being taken as the latest WPI shows that the prices of pulses have remained steep with inflation at about over 34% than last year.
On Monday, the average retail price of arhar across the country was Rs 140 per kg while urad was selling at Rs120 a kg. Prices of masoor and chana dal have increased marginally in the past one month. In Delhi, prices of urad, arhar, masoor and gram have jumped significantly. While urad dal price has increased by Rs 28 per kg in the last one month, arhar, masoor and gram prices have gone up by Rs 15, Rs 7 and Rs 7 respectively.
India is the world’s largest consumer and importer of pulses and they remain for most Indians the primary source of protein. Given their significance, it is really shocking that per capita output and availability of pulses today is even lower than at the time of Independence and that the country remains so dependent on imports to meet a large part of its requirement of pulses. Government policy needs to treat pulses as top priority given its importance in the Indian diet, particularly for vegetarians.