However, Rahul Chauhan, director, IGrain India, warned that the falling prices of pulses may force farmers to shift to ther kharif crops like cotton and soyabean, whose prices are ruling above minimum support price (MSP)Wholesale prices of tur, moong and urad have declined 10-15% this week after government changed pulses import policy from ‘restricted’ to ‘open’ in the previous week. Traders, processors, farmers and analysts are concerned the move can put a break on India’s efforts of achieving self-sufficiency in pulses as fall in prices can encourage farmers to move to more remunerative crops.
Along with the changes made in import policy, the Centre has asked state governments to monitor pulses under the Essential Commodities Act to control any spike in prices. As prices of most of the pulses are ruling close to the minimum support price levels, trade participants are surprised by the policy changes.
“After India opened up pulses import to free category last week, prices of pulses started softening in the domestic market. At the same time, pulses prices have started firming up in the international market. As the next kharif sowing season is just round the corner, falling trend in pulses prices can result in decline in area sown under pulses. Farmers can shift from pulses to other kharif crops like cotton and soyabean, whose prices are ruling above minimum support price (MSP),” said Rahul Chauhan, director, IGrain India.
Following instructions of the central government to the states to monitor pulses under the provisions of the EC Act, the government of Rajasthan, a major producer of chana and moong, has asked traders to report their weekly stock position and the transactions they carry out during the week.
Farm leader Rampal Jat, president, Kisan Mahapanchayat, has expressed concern about the downward trend in pulses prices. “The free import of pulses can put a break on the journey of self-sufficiency in pulses that India had undertaken a few years ago,” he said.
Processing industry body All India Dal Millers Association said the policy changes will result in consumers paying more for their vegetarian protein. “The move to open import of pulses will result in concentration of the import trade in the hands of a few big multinational companies and a handful of big traders. These companies have already procured big stocks of tur, moong and urad in countries like Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Kenya, South Africa, Malawi etc. Small traders and millers will be forced to buy pulses at higher prices from the big importers. Imports will also result in farmers getting lower returns for their produce,” said Suresh Agarwarl, president, All India Dal Millers Association.