India seeks deal with Brazil for pulses imports

By Sandip Das

After signing memorandum of understandings (MoUs) with Mozambique, Malawi and Myanmar for importing pulses, India has approached Brazil for a deal under which the South American country will undertake to grow tur and urad varieties with an obligation to export the products to India.

Sources told FE that in a recent visit of Brazilian officials from the agriculture ministry to the country, India urged Brazilian authorities to explore the possibility of the deal.

“We have asked our Brazilian counterpart to come up with a proposal for growing pulses there,” an official said.

The domestic consumption of pulses is small while the pulses such as urad and tur can be grown in Brazil because of conducive weather conditions, and are likely to be grown there for the purpose of exports to India, he said.

The possible collaboration with Brazil is aimed at reducing import dependence of urad and tur on a few countries.

This year India has imported 2.13 million tonne (MT) of pulses – 1.08 MT (lentil), 0.62 MT (tur or pigeon pea) and 0.42 MT (urad or black gram) mostly from Australia, Canada, Myanmar, Mozambique, Tanzania, Sudan and Malawi so far.

Brazil annually produces 3 MT of varieties of beans – black, copea and mungo which is enough to meet domestic demand as well as some exports to Vietnam, Pakistan and Egypt.

In addition, India is also exploring the possibility of growing pulses especially tur and urad in Ethiopia and Tanzania to boost domestic supplies.

Earlier India had signed an MoU with Mozambique for import of 0.2 MT of arhar annually for five years when the retail prices of tur skyrocketed to Rs 200 a kg in 2016. This MoU was extended for another five years in September, 2021.

In 2021, India entered into MoUs with Malawi and Myanmar for the import of 50,000 tonne and 0.1 MT of tur per annum, respectively, till 2025.

Out of a record pulses production of 26.05 MT in 2022-23 crop year, chana (gram) has a share of 50%. The country has been self-sufficient in chana and moong varieties of pulses.

“Despite record production of pulses, there has been a gap between demand and supply of pulses in the country as its key source protein for a large vegetarian population,’ an official said.

Currently the government has abolished import duties on three varieties of pulses -tur, lentil and urad for curbing rise in prices due to domestic shortfall in production.

According to an estimate about 15% of domestic consumption of pulses is met through imports.

The retail inflation in ‘pulses and products’ category in October rose to 18.79% on year mainly due to sharp spike in prices of arhar (40.94%), gram (11.16%) and moong (12.75%).

This article has been republished from The Financial Express.

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