The imposition of import duty on pulses last month has failed to improve its wholesale prices which have hit the lowest level in the past few months, down by almost 30 per cent. Last month, the government imposed an import duty of 30 per cent on chana and masoor dal and 10-15% on other varieties.
On Friday, chana dal was selling for Rs 51 per kg in the wholesale market against Rs 75-80 per kg two months back. Arhar was available at Rs 52 per kg on Friday while it was Rs 75/kg two months back. Mungi (Dhuli) was available for Rs 64/kg while it sold at Rs 80-85/kg two months back. Urad prices have also come down from Rs 80/kg to Rs 55 now. Chana prices have come down to Rs 87 per kg from Rs 125 per kg in the past one month.
Anil Kumar Tinku, a trader from Fenton Ganj Mandi, Jalandhar’s main wholesale market area, said,”The government levied import duty to keep up the pulse prices to help the producer (farmer), who is not even able to recover production cost. But there is downward trend in pulse prices across the state.” He said farmers were worried about the next produce which will be ready in February.
Aggarwal Brothers, an Amritsar-based wholesale enterprise, favoured a complete ban on import to drive up pulse prices. “The prices can be improved if import is stopped completely for some time as this year there was bumper crop of pulses and the next crop is also expected to be bumper, which will further bring down prices,” they said. PK Behal, president of Fenton Ganj Mandi, said the government should take serious steps to improve the pulse prices.
No respite to consumers
The downward trend in pulse prices have not helped consumers, who are still buying pulses at high prices. The difference between the wholesale and retail price of pulses is 30-35 per cent. On Friday, consumers were paying Rs 75/kg for chana and urad dal, Rs 80/kg for mungi and Rs 75/kg for arhar.