Centre cracks down on hoarders of pulses, other farm produce

By Zia Haq

The central government has begun cracking down on hoarders of pulses and other farm produce based on what a top official described as “reliable” market intelligence following rising consumer inflation, which hit a three-month high in January at 6.52%.

“There are tur (pigeon pea) imported from Myanmar, which people have kept. Please do release it in the market is my appeal. Don’t hold it. We have a set of very reliable intelligence,” consumer affairs secretary Rohit Singh said.

Singh had told a top lentil industry body that traders should do good business and earn reasonable profits. “We are with you on that, but if you try to game it, then we are there to control. That is what we get paid for. That’s my friendly warning,” Singh said.

The government’s price-monitoring cell is using better pricing-prediction methods, such as root mean square error, a mathematical model economic forecasters often use to gauge errors in predicting quantitative data.

Inflation in food and beverages was at 6.19% in January, compared with a 4.58% rise in December. Food inflation has panned out differently, rising month-on-month compared to typical cooling during winters.

While cereal prices rose 16.12% in January, against a 13.79% increase in December, due to shortages, there isn’t a dearth of pulses, according to official data. Yet, pulses inflation was at 4.27%, against 3.89% in the preceding month.

The Centre’s view is that pulses should not go beyond ₹125 a kg. Rates were being tracked daily and intelligence updates were being acted upon, the official said.

A broad rise in food prices has knocked household budgets. Food inflation hurts poorer households more as they tend to spend a higher proportion of their income on eatables, relative to higher-income families.

Inflation in meat and fish was at 6.04% in January, against 5.13% last month. Inflation in eggs was at 8.78%, as against 6.19% last month. Vegetable prices, however, saw a decline.

This article has been republished from The Hindustan Times.