Trade body also demands of removal of import restriction and quota on green peas
India's pulses output for 2019-20 will take a hit due to erratic rains and will miss the government's target, a trade body forecast. It also sought a removal of import duties and caps on peas.
The Centre's production target for pulses and grains is 26.30 million metric tonnes (MT) for 2019-20.
But there will be a shortfall of 10 per cent and three million tonnes of imports will be needed to make up for that, according to the India Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA).
“A heavy and extended monsoon has led to loss of pulses crops like urad and moong in the kharif season,” Bimal Kothari, vice chairman of IPGA, said on January 9, 2019. “There will be an estimated 30 per cent shortfall in moong production and 50 per cent in urad,” he added.
The average annual production of urad and moong are 3 and 2 MT respectively. India is the largest producer, consumer and importer of pulses in the world. It consumes an estimated 26 MT tonnes of pulses annually.
Pulses are rain-fed crops, grown mostly in areas that depend on rainfall for irrigation. However, excess rain can spoil the crops’ prospects.
For decades, India’s domestic production had been in the range of 14-18 MT. However, from 2016-17, the production crossed 23 MT. In 2016-17, the production of pulses was 23.13 MT, in 2017-18, it was 25.42 MT and in 2018-19 is around 23.22 MT.
In 2015-16, the prices of pulses had gone very high, making them unaffordable for consumers. From 2016-17, the Indian government initiated a number of measures like substantial increase in minimum support price, government procurement and introduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers on import to augment production.
All of this led to a sharp dip in imports — from 6.6 MT in 2017 to 2.37 MT in 2018.
According to IPGA, India has imported 2.14 MT of pulses between April and November 2019. It has projected that the total import of pulses in this financial year would be around three MT.
“Another 0.9 MT of pulses would be imported till end of March 2020,” Kothari said.
Demand of industry
The IPGA also demanded the removal of import duty and import quota on peas.
According to IPGA, India produces 0.5 MT of peas though the requirement is around three MT. The shortfall is usually met through import of peas from the United States and Canada. There are four types of peas namely yellow, green, Dum and Kaspa.
In order to help pulses farmers get better prices in the market, the Indian government put a 50 per cent import duty on the import of peas in November 2018. It also restricted the import of peas by 150,000 million tonnes, pigeon pea by 0.575 MT, moong by 0.15 MT and urad by 0.4 MT.
But industry has demanded the removal of import restrictions and duties from green peas. India produces only 25,000 million tonnes of green peas.
“The government’s action has made the import of peas costly, which is not sustainable in the market,” Pradeep Ghorpade, chief executive of IPGA, said.
India’s pulses production is driven by chickpea and pigeon pea. The contribution of chickpea in total production is around 48 per cent, followed by pigeon pea at 17 per cent. Other pulses include moong (nine per cent), urad (11 per cent) and others.
“The Indian government wants consumers to eat chana (chickpea) instead of imported green peas to help farmers to get better prices,” Ghorpade said. According to IPGA’s assessment, after imports, the price of green peas increased to more than Rs 300 per kilogram.
The IPGA demanded the removal of quota and duty on green peas because of their nutritional value. “Green peas are better suited to fight micronutrient deficiencies in large populations than any other food stuff,” Kothari said.
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