Initial pulses' sowing takes a beating as farmers protest price fall

Increasing farmers' anger against falling prices of their produce, mainly pulses and vegetables, seems to have hit initial sowing of the former with the crop being planted in around 39 per cent lesser area than last year as on June 16.

Though full-fledged sowing is yet to take place and will gather steam as and when southwest monsoon reaches the rainfed areas of Central, Northern and western India, the initial signals are not very encouraging.

Competing crop like cotton seems to have gained with its area increasing by 36 per cent till June 16 as compared to the same period last year.

"All this talk of monsoon getting delayed over Central India is wrong as a mere delay of 3-4 days won't impact sowing. Moreover, from start to finish monsoon should cover the entire country in 45 days which is where it is as of now. Therefore, no cause to worry," Director General of India Meteorological Department (IMD), K J Ramesh told Business Standard.

He said that in as of now in North-East India, the monsoon is slightly less than normal, but the quantum of rains in the region is so high that a minor deviation won't cause any problem.

The southwest monsoon has further advanced into some more parts of Madhya Maharashtra, remaining parts of Marathwada, some parts of Vidarbha, some more parts of Chattisgarh, most parts of Odisha, remaining parts of West Bengal and some parts of Jharkhand and Bihar.

Meanwhile, data furnished by department of agriculture shows that acreage of all major kharif pulses be it arhar, urad and moong is less than last year.

Till June 06, showed that area under arhar is around 82.51 per cent less than last year, while that under urad is around 27 per cent less than last year.

The area under moong as per initial sowing is around 52.53 per cent less than last year till June 16.

In total pulses is planted in around 10.62 million hectares of land in the entire kharif season, of which till June 16, sowing has been completed in less than 3 million hectares, that is less than 30 per cent area.

The retail price of some pulses dipped below their government fixed Minimum Support Price (MSP) this year due to bumper harvest and good monsoon, before recovering marginally.

The Centre stepped in and bought almost 2 million tonnes of pulses from farmers the bulk of which in the 2016-17 kharif season, but it didn't lead to any big push to prices as the total procurement was less than 10 per cent of total output estimated at 22.40 million tonnes.

In states like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, the sharp drop in prices trigged a massive farmers' agitation, compelling the state authorities to buy pulses directly farmers. For the 2017-18, kharif season it has now decided to raise MSP by Rs 350-400 per quintal.

In the last one-year, as per data available with the department of consumer affairs, wholesale rates of tur dal have dropped by 54 per cent, while that of urad has fallen by 40 per cent.

During the last one-year, moong dal has softened by 19 per cent in Delhi's wholesale markets, while masur dal prices have fallen by 30 per cent during the same period. 

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