By Rajendra Jadhav / Reuters
Mumbai: Large tenders for pulses imports floated by India to augment supply in the festival season have pushed up global prices by 7-8% in a month and may flare up further on thriving local demand, trade officials said.
India, the world’s biggest producer, consumer and importer of pulses, is battling rising prices and has asked state-run agencies to import pulses along with private traders to increase supply in the domestic market.
The state-run National Agricultural Co-operative Marketing Federation, State Trading Corp of India Ltd, Minerals and Metals Trading Corporation of India and PEC have floated tenders to import 1.03 million tonnes of pulses since June.
“These import tenders gave clear signals to international market that there is a big shortfall in India. We are in dire need of food grains. Obviously, exporters increased prices,” said K.C. Bhartiya, president, Pulses Importers Association of India.
“Import prices of yellow peas, moong or green gram, tur or pigeon peas and urad or black gram have risen by about 7-8% in a month in the international market,” Bhartiya and private importers said.
India allowed duty-free import and banned export of pulses in 2006. The ban was extended till March 2009.
A drop in summer-sown or kharif pulses acreage will certainly lead to lower output and may increase India’s dependence on imports, said a senior official at a Mumbai-based private grain importing firm, who declined to be named.
Acreage under kharif pulses fell by 15% to 9.56 million hectares as on 22 August, compared to 11.29 million hectares a year ago, farm ministry data showed.
India’s festival season has just started and demand for pulses usually increases during this time. State-run agencies have floated tenders asking bidders to supply the produce during this period, when prices go up.
“Traders in Australia and Myanmar have been tracking Indian import orders and are increasing prices considering a shortfall in the biggest buyer’s output due to erratic monsoon,” said Ashwini Bansod, an analyst at M F Global Commodities India Ltd.
In the last one month, buying from overseas market has become more expensive than from the domestic market, importers said.
“Private players are importing very little quantity. Only government agencies are buying as they are getting subsidy,” said Prem Kogta, an importer based in Jalgaon, Maharashtra.
Of the total quantity placed for imports, more than 85% was yellow peas as it is the only pulse available in bulk quantity in the international market.
“The government is substituting oranges by importing pineapples. Yellow peas can substitute chana, but can’t substitute moong, urad and tur. People use these pulses in different ways,” Bansod said.
India mainly sources yellow peas from Canada, the US and Australia, chana from Australia and Tanzania, while moong, tur and urad come from Myanmar.
“Limited quantity is available in international market and there are many buyers like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. So, we may see more costlier imports,” Bhartiya said.