Import of pulses set to rise 3mt on lower crop estimates

Import of pulses set to rise 3mt on lower crop estimates

Mumbai: India is likely to import 3 million tonnes (mt) of pulses in 2008-09, 11.1% more than a year ago, to bridge the gap between rising domestic demand and a likely fall in summer-sown pulses output, a senior official said.

“The government agencies will import 1.5mt of pulses and we are expecting same amount of imports from private players," Yashwant Bhave, secretary, consumer affairs ministry, said on Wednesday. In 2007-08, imports were around 2.7mt, according to provisional estimates, he said.

India is the world’s biggest producer, consumer and importer of pulses. The country allowed duty-free import and banned export of pulses in 2006. The ban was extended to March 2009.

Prices of kharif, or summer-sown pulses like tur or red gram, urad, or black matpe, and moong, or green gram, have risen by more than 15% in last three months due to a drop in the acreage.

Area under kharif pulses was 10 million ha as on 4 September, down 16.7% compared with 12 million ha the same time last year, farm ministry data showed.

To rein in rising prices India has asked state-run agencies like National Agricultural Co-operative Marketing Federation, State Trading Corp. of India Ltd, and Minerals and Metals Trading Corp. of India to import pulses to increase the supply. The government agencies so far have contracted 700,000 tonnes pulses, which is expected to arrive soon, Bhave said.

“Imports will keep lid on rising prices, but prices are unlikely to come down sharply. The market is expecting a fall in the output," said Chowda Reddy, an analyst at Karvy Comtrade Ltd.

The output of kharif pulses may fall by 500,000 tonnes, a drop of 8% from last year, farm commissioner N.B. Singh said in August.