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Pulses import to fall by 20% in FY18 on better domestic output

Rajesh Bhayani/Mumbai 05 May 17 | 01:55 AM

After a record high of 5.67 million tonnes in 2016-17, representing a 19.9 per cent increase over the previous year, import of pulses is expected to decline this year, by up to 20 per cent.

In FY17, the domestic output of pulses stood at 22.14 million tonnes, against a normal annual consumption of 24 million tonnes. However, 2015-16 was a drought year and the output was only 16.35 million tonnes. Pravin Dongre, chairman, India Pulses and Grains Association (Ipga), said: "Last year, importers had placed huge orders at the beginning of the sowing season which they then had to honour (even after the crop turned out to be better)."

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Dongre said a little over half the import (2.93 million tonnes) was of yellow peas (matar), which isn't grown much in India. Chana (brown chickpea), at 880,000 tonnes, was another big component. When reports of higher crop started coming in, import of tur (split red gram) was reduced."

India produced 4.23 million tonnes of tur in 2016-17 and import was 447,000 tonnes, a little over 10 per cent of the production, as per Ipga data. Two-fifth of that import was in the December quarter and inward shipments fell 24 per cent in the next quarter, due to better domestic availability.

Tur is currently being sold below the Central Government's Minimum Support Price (MSP) and a 10 per cent import duty was imposed on it at the end of March. Maharashtra, the largest producer of the commosity, is considering other measures to help farmers. Chana prices have, however, traded above the MSP in most markets.

Ipga wants the government to relax the stock limits for pulses and allow export. Dongre said, "These two measures will help farmers to continue sowing, as consumption of pulses is only growing." Among the reasons, he pointed to rising rural incomes and growth of the fast-food segment.

This year, says Dongre, import is expected to return to the 2015-16 level, of 4.73 million tonnes.

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