Importers cite masoor and tur shortage, want duty on inward shipments eased

Topics pulses | pulses import | Lockdown

Citing the increase in retail prices, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its latest periodic policy released on Friday expressed concerns about pulses inflation..
Pulses importers have urged the Centre to reduce import duty on masoor and tur, which are in short supply in the domestic market and their prices have shot up since the nationwide lockdown began on March 25 to prevent spread of Covid-19.

“The government needs to reduce import duty of 33 per cent on masoor and 10 per cent on tur to allow their import to help ease retail prices. There is no need to reduce 50 per cent import duty on chana as its supply is sufficient,” said Bimal Kothari, MD of Pancham International, a city-based pulses importer and trader.

The lockdown brought factory operations and movement of goods to a standstill. While pulses processing units continued to operate with less than 30-40 per cent of their installed capacity, transportation was impacted, resulting in a sharp increase in retail prices, despite wholesale prices remaining subdued on high rabi arrivals.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its policy statement released on Friday expressed concerns about the increase in retail prices.
“Among the pressure points, the elevated level of pulses inflation is worrisome, and warrants timely and swift supply management interventions, including a reappraisal of import duties,” RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das had said.

“The RBI’s concern was focusing perhaps on retail prices of all pulses that have shot up sharply not because of supply shortage but due to retailers taking undue advantage of the lockdown by increasing prices. In fact, consumers rushed to stock up on essentials including pulses amid fears of supply shortage,” said Kothari.

 

 
Data compiled by the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution showed average price of masoor jumped by 14 per cent in two months and it was trading at Rs 76 a kg as against Rs 68 a kg at the beginning of the lockdown. Similarly, average price of moong reported a jump of 13 per cent and it was trading at Rs 112 a kg now from Rs 97 a kg on March 25. Urad, tur and chana have also become costlier by 6-9 per cent.

All varieties of pulses saw prices increase by 6-14 per cent in the wholesale markets. In contrast, prices of raw (whole) pulses declined with most trading below the minimum support price (MSP).
“Consumption of pulses has declined due to closure of sweets, farsan, snacks shops and other such bulk consumers including hotels, restaurants and caterers. But, consumption might rise after lockdown 4.0 ends on May 31 and state governments open the economy gradually,” said Jitu Bheda, chairman of India Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA).

After achieving self-sufficiency with an output of 25.42 million tonnes (mt) in 2017-18, India’s production declined to 22.08 mt in 2018-19. 

The Union agriculture ministry in its third advanced estimate forecast pulses output at 23.01 mt, compared to estimated annual consumption of 25.5 mt.

Meanwhile, trade sources said that National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (Nafed) has decided to release raw pulses. Earlier, Nafed had decided to release processed pulses to avoid delay in their supply to consumers.


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