New Delhi: India will import 1.5 million tonnes of lentils this year to replenish stocks and ease domestic prices of food staples, said minister of state for finance, Pawan Kumar Bansal.
The government will buy lentils, including gram and yellow peas, through the National Agriculture Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd, MMTC Ltd, State Trading Corp. and PEC Ltd, Bansal said in a written reply to a question in Parliament.
India is taking steps to stockpile grains and pulses as rising domestic prices threaten to fuel inflation. Finance minister P. Chidambaram last week cut some duties in his final budget proposals to help slow inflation that reached a two-year high in January.
The Centre contracted to buy 2.87 lakh tonnes as of 25 April and 52,039 tonnes have already reached ports.
The government is importing wheat for the second time this year and has halted the export of lentils, and cut import tax on edible oils and fuels to check prices. Futures trading in wheat and rice have been banned and duties on cement and steel reduced.
The measures are taking hold. Inflation rate slowed to 5.77% in the week ended 21 April, from 6.09% in the previous week, the government said last week.