Tur dal imports at a new high; retail prices stabilise

Tur dal has a weightage of 0.8% in the calculation of the Consumer Price Index, a tool for measurement of inflation.

By Sandip Das

Easing of imports has resulted in record import of tur (arhar) dal, a key variety in the pulses basket, so far this fiscal.

More than five lakh tonne of tur dal has been imported till December 31, 2021, sources said, and total imports are likely to cross 6.5 lakh tonne by March-end as against 4.42 lakh tonne in 2020-21.

This has resulted in retail prices stabilising, while the kharif crop has started to arrive in mandis in key growing states. As per data from the department of consumer affairs, retail prices of tur dal have declined compared to the start of October 2021.

Tur dal has a weightage of 0.8% in the calculation of the Consumer Price Index, a tool for measurement of inflation.

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 tonne 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 tonne and 1,00,000 tonne 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 tonne in the 2021-22 crop year (July-June).

“Higher imports have ensured that there are sufficient stocks in the domestic market to meet the requirement. Mandi prices are unlikely to rise in the coming months,” said Nitin Kalantri, managing director, Kalantri Food, a processor of pulses from Latur, Maharashtra.

Meanwhile, the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) has started registering farmers in Karnataka and Maharashtra for procurement of tur under MSP operations. “We are targeting procurement of 7 lakh tonne of tur from farmers in the current season,” Sanjeev Kumar Chadha, managing director, NAFED, told FE. NAFED is mandated to keep 2.1 million tonne of pulses as buffer stock, which is subsequently released in the open market to curb price rise.

Tur is a long duration (180 days) pulses variety grown in rainfed condition in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and other states. The variety has a share of about 17% in the India’s total pulses production in 2020-21.

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