May 25, 2021 10:35:20 am
Weeks before farmers begin sowing kharif crops, the central government has stepped in to control the “sudden spurt in prices of pulses”. After doing away with licensed imports, the central government has now directed state governments to verify stock held by millers, traders and others to rule out hoarding.
Damaged crop and reduced per acre yield has seen pulses trading either at or above the government declared Minimum Support Price (MSP). Thus growers of urad and moong as well as tur had seen good realizations despite the increase in sown area.
August rains had wreaked havoc in the moong and urad fields in states such as Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, while post October rains had destroyed the then growing crop of tur in Karnataka and Maharashtra. Similarly, rabbi chana’s per acre yields have been low due to crop damage in parts of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh.
As a result of this supply-demand mismatch retail prices across the country have been on the higher side throughout the year. Retail prices of all pulses are between Rs 70-120/kg in most urban cities of the country. Given the increase in retail prices, the central government had intervened to cool down prices. The central government had increased the time limit for arrival of imported tur by a month, clashing with domestic stocks arriving in markets. And, instead of May, it had announced the import quotas early in March. Earlier this month the government amended their import rules and allowed license-free imports by all.
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With prices still being high, the central government on May 14 had asked states to check hoarding. This follows the 7.51 per cent year-on-year increase in inflation of pulses and products as reported by the April’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) for April.
Reacting sharply to these moves, the Maharashtra Dall Millers Association said the price rise was more due to supply-demand mismatch than hoarding. On May 22, the association sent a letter to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi pointing out the actions being taken might have short term effect and its long term effect could pose a threat to the progress made by the country in terms of self sufficiency achieved in pulses. Contrary to the popular perception, the letter said, moong and chana were trading below their MSP while urad and tur were selling above their MSP. The present price rise, the letter said, is short term and any action before monsoon sowing can see farmers turn to crops like sugarcane or soyabean in preference of pulses.
Instead of “knee-jerk reactions”, the association has asked the government to use the buffer stock available with various government bodies like NAFED to cool down retail prices.
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