Govt mulls minimum import price on tur dal

By Sandip Das

To prevent price manipulations by traders, the government is considering a proposal to impose a minimum import price (MIP) for tur dal, a chunk of it is imported from Myanmar and a few African countries including Malawi and Mozambique.

An official said as the country sources the pulses variety from a few countries, some importers taking advantage of situations are pushing prices up causing a spike in domestic prices.

“We are considering a proposal to impose MIP on tur dal imports so that price manipulations by the traders could be stopped,” an official told FE adding that an MIP in the range of $ 900 to $ 1000/tonne is being discussed as it would give signal to traders against jacking up prices.

Sources said despite higher prices imports of Myanmar and Mozambique have been sluggish. In the first three quarters of the current fiscal, the import of tur dal had been 0.14 million tonne (MT) and 0.2 MT respectively from Myanmar and Mozambique while the imports were 0.21 MT and 0.46 MT in the same period of FY23.

Consumer affairs secretary Rohit Kumar Singh recently had warned global pulses traders especially from east Africa and Myanmar against manipulating prices by making a killing as the country imports significant quantities of pulses.

“Sometimes in some geographies especially east Africa and Myanmar, there are traders who take advantage of the situation,” Singh had said. 

Earlier India had signed an MoU with Mozambique for import of 0.2 MT of tur 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.

India imported 0.9 MT of tur in 2022-23 while in the current fiscal (April-December), the imports have crossed 0.88 MT. 

To bolster domestic buffers, agencies such as National Cooperative Consumers Federation (NCCF) and farmers’ cooperative Nafed have purchased 10,000 tonne of tur dal at the market price from the farmers. The mandi prices of tur dal at present is ruling around Rs 10,400/quintal against the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 7000/quintal for the 2023-2024.

As per the first advance estimate for 2023-24 season (July-June) by the agriculture ministry, tur (pigeon peas)  output is estimated at 3.42 MT, which is marginally higher than the previous year’s output.

The modal retail prices of tur, according to the department of consumer affairs rose by 45% to Rs 160/kg on Saturday compared to prices prevailing a year back. The wholesale prices of tur rose by 40% to Rs 14,000/quintal on year.

Last month inflation in tur dal was 39% on year and retail inflation had been double digit since December, 2022.

At present the country produces 28 MT of pulses of all the varieties – chana, tur, urad, masoor and moong which is largely sufficient to meet the domestic demand. However, in terms of production and consumption of pulses varieties – tur, urad and masoor, ‘there is a slight mismatch,’, sources said.

The government has adopted a consistent policy on imports by putting three varieties of pulses under zero duty import duty regime till March, 2025 so that farmers in those countries can make decisions to grow pulses well in advance

Despite the government intervention, inflation in pulses has been in the double digits for the past many months. Pulses inflation last month was 19.54% on the year.

This article has been republished from The Financial Express.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *