In a relief to dal millers, traders and importers, the Centre issued revised stock limit for pulses. As per the latest notification issued on Monday, wholesale traders can now store 500 tonnes (with the caveat of not more than 200 tonnes of one variety), while retailers up to five tonnes each.
Stock limit for processors has been fixed at 50 per cent of their installed capacity or last six months stock, whichever is higher. No stock limit has been imposed for importers.
High retail prices of pulses have seen the Centre stepping in to control the same. On July 3, the Union government had imposed stock limits on pulses, which had sent out shock waves across the industry.
The earlier notification stipulated a 200-tonne stock limit for wholesalers and three months of production or 25 per cent of their installed capacity for processors. Stock limit for importers was the same as processors, while retail traders were allowed to stock five tonnes. The new notification has kept the later unchanged.
The notification had come even as farmers have undertaken their kharif operations and had seen the industry taking up the case with the government. Industry bodies had pointed out the stock limit was non-feasible and would give rise to problems.
Importers were especially hit as imports arrive in large vessels with minimum capacity of 50,000-60,000 tonnes. Also the average time for imports to arrive is around a month and disposal of such large amount in a short time, importers said, would be impossible.
Stock limit, the ultimate weapon in the Centre’s arsenal was preceded by multiple steps one of which was to allow imports under the open general licence. This would have allowed for smooth flow of pulses which, the government thought would cool down the retail prices of pulses.
However, the stock limit importers said would not allow them to do business. Bimal Kothari, vice-chairman of the India Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA), welcomed the move. “We welcome the decision to restrict the stock limit to tur, urad, masoor and chana and exempting all the minor pulses like kabuli chana, lobia, peas, beans, etc. We are confident that this will smoothen the supply of pulses in the coming months and stabilise the prices of pulses during the forthcoming festive period,” he added.
However, imports can hamper the farmer’s realisation given the fact that they should arrive by the end of October. All India sowing report shows that farmers have sown 70.64 lakh hectares of pulses as against the 80.36 lakh hectares of last year.
The long break in monsoons has seen farmers halting their operations, which are expected to pick up in the days to come. However, post the government interventions, average traded prices of pulses in most markets have seen correcting. Barring masoor, all other pulses are now trading below their minimum support price (MSP).