A day later farmer groups announced their plans to launch a new movement for legalization Minimum Support Price ,SME), the central government has extended the import window for urad and tur. Both the kharif pulses are currently trading above the MSP announced by their government, but farmers’ organizations say the move will bring down prices.
The Centre’s decision taken before the start of the Kharif crop has come as a surprise to many.
According to trade sources, till the end of January, the country has imported 7 lakh tonnes of tur, 5.8 lakh tonnes of masoor, 1.15 lakh tonnes of rajma, 66,693 tonnes of cowpea, 1.65 lakh tonnes of moong, 1.32 lakh tonnes of gram, 61,027 tonnes. Tonnes of Kabuli Chana and 4.89 Lakh Tonnes of Urad.
Since last year, the central government is keeping a close watch on the prices of pulses. Measures like extended import window and stock limits were imposed to control prices.
The current decision to extend the import window comes in the backdrop of rising food prices, especially edible oil and pulses.
Prices of almost all pulses have now crossed Rs 100 per kg, with chana (Rs 77 per kg) being the only exception. Despite several interventions, the prices have remained above Rs 100 per kg.
In wholesale markets across the country, urad is trading above its MSP of Rs 6,300 per quintal, while tur is trading close to its MSP. Tur is trading at around Rs 6,500-6,800 per quintal in Latur market. Most farmers have decided to hold on to their produce and not sell it now, hoping for better prices.
For farmers, the decision has come as a setback as they grapple with increased cost of production and higher fuel prices.
Vilas Ufade, director of Latur-based development FPC, said the decision would rule out any possibility of price correction. “While we are demanding to make MSP legal, on the other hand the government wants to ensure trading of commodities at less than the MSP,” he said.
However, India Pulse and Grains Association vice-president Bimal Kothari welcomed the move. Kothari said the shortfall in production by about 10-12 per cent would now be met by imports. The association expects to import around 2-2.5 lakh tonnes of tur from Myanmar. Kothari said imports would negate the possibility of further price rise. Given that Myanmar has reported a good crop of urad, India will import it regularly from there.