The Centre’s move directing all stockholders like millers, traders and importers to declare the stocks of pulses has caught the industry by surprise. Traders said that prices are not so high with respect to the minimum support price (MSP) to warrant such a step.
Suresh Agrawal, president, All India Dal Millers Association (AIDMA), said that there has been only a 5% rise in the price of pulses as compared to the 10-15% rise in oilseeds, and the government instead of focusing on oilseeds, has decided to take action in the area of pulses. This move is likely to hurt small traders and millers and could cause panic in the market, he said.
Nitin Kalantri, a pulse trader from Latur, said that already the prices of green gram are ruling below MSP at Rs 4,700 per quintal to Rs 4,850 per quintal. “Tur is trading at Rs 6,400 per quintal to Rs 6,500 per quintal. Prices of moong have dropped by Rs 400 to Rs 500 per quintal and by Rs 800 per quintal of urad. I don’t understand what has bothered the government,” he said.
The Department of Consumer Affairs on Monday, reviewed the action taken by states/Union Territories (UTs) for disclosure of stock of pulses by stockholders like millers, importers, traders. Participants in that meeting observed that sudden spurt in prices of pulses may be due to hoarding of pulses by the stock holders. Accordingly, the department directed all the stockholders like millers, traders, importers to declare the stocks. States/UTs were also requested to monitor the prices of pulses on weekly basis in a prescribed format.
In the past few weeks, tur prices in retail markets have been over Rs 7,000 per quintal, which is Rs 1,000 more than its 2020-21 MSP. Urad prices are ruling even higher, at around Rs 8,000 per quintal. The 2020-21 MSP for urad is Rs 6,000 per quintal. The market price of moong is also near its MSP of Rs 7,196 per quintal.
According to government officials, the procurement of tur by state agencies is almost over and farmers do not have much stock while the urad crop is also exhausted.
Nilesh Vira, director, Food grains, Navi Mumbai APMC, said that while the government may have been concerned about the rise in pulse prices, on the ground level there has been no such spurt in prices. Vira said that most of the mandis are shut and not much procurement is happening.
“Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Karnataka are under lockdown and most of their mandis are not shut. Moreover, even NAFED is reported to have only 10 lakh tonne tur. So, this may be a proactive step by the government to ensure that prices do not go further up,” he said.
He felt that a move of this nature will now send a signal that there is a shortage in the market and pulse prices are likely to go up in the next couple of months by 10-15%.
Jitu Bheda, chairman, India Pulse and Grain Association (IPGA), said that there is not much stock in the market anyway. Moreover, imported pulses are exempt from stock limits. Bheda said he did not foresee much impact especially since the imports are allowed till October-November and the new harvest arrives by January.
To keep retail prices from rising further, the central government on Saturday allowed free import of tur, urad and moong. The move, after a gap of three years, comes weeks before start of sowing for the kharif season.