Trade sees India’s lentils imports rising to over a million tonnes this fiscal

India’s imports of lentils (masur) are set to rise this year on higher consumption as the production of other key pulses such as tur, moong and urad is seen lower on erratic weather. Based on the current import trend, the trade estimates India’s lentils purchases would rise by over a million tonnes this financial year over previous year’s 8.58 lakh tonnes.

‘Masur imports from April till now have already crossed half a million tonne mark. Another 1.5-2 lt are on the way. We expect the masur imports to cross over a million tonnes this financial year,’ said Bimal Kothari, Chairman, India Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA) the apex trade body.

India’s production of lentils during 2022-23 stood at over 15.8 lt, per third advance estimates released in May, higher than previous year’s 12.69 lt. Lentil imports, which touched a high of 11.16 lt in 2020-21, had dropped to 6.67 lt during 2021-22 and are seen rebounding.

‘Prices of masur in mandis are hovering around Rs.61-62 per kg around the MSP levels and there’s nothing much to worry about as there is regular supply,’ Kothari said.

US tariff removal

India imports lentils mainly from Canada and Australia and the latest move to remove the retaliatory customs tariff on imports from the United States may widen the sourcing base.

‘The US produces more of green lentils, while in India red lentils are widely consumed. Prices are at a high in the US. We will have to see whether the US is competitive in the red lentils,’ Kothari said. Production in Canada this year was a bit lower at 1.2 million tonnes, while Australia, where the harvest would begin in November, is seen harvesting 1.3 million tonnes, Kothari said.

Rahul Chauhan of IGrain India said the removal of tariff on US lentils may aid the Indian imports as the consumption of other variety of pulses is seen going up with the production of key pulses such as tur, moong and urad seen taking a hit. US produces around 2.5 lakh tonnes of lentils of which around 60 per cent is green lentils. For the US red lentils, besides India, Turkey is a major buyer.

Modal prices of masur in the mandis of producing regions of Uttar Pradesh are hovered around Rs.5,900-7,050 per quintal and in Madhya Pradesh in the range of Rs.5,100-6,200 over the past couple of days. Retail prices of masur dal was around Rs.92.33 per kg in UP and Rs.90.75 in M.P. on Friday, per the Ministry of Consumer Affairs data.

This article has been republished from The Hindu Business Line

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