Steep hike in the rates of pulses in recent month may force the government to increase the Minimum Support Price (MSP) further. The government is facing heat of criticism towards its policy concerning farmers. A hike of Rs 300 per quintal is considered, by the senior officials of the Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Ministry, lucrative enough to push farming of pulses. Higher production is also aimed to meet the demand-supply gap and thereby checking steep rise in prices.
According to a senior official of the Ministry, these essential food commodities need adequate attention in terms of their MSP and the government is likely to increase it. The official indicated that the hike could be as high as Rs 300 per quintal for gram or chickpea and lentil. These variety of pulses would be reaching the market from next month onwards.
Commodity experts feel that the increased MSP in the case of Arhar, Moong and Urad in June should have more Rs 300 before the fresh produce hit the markets. They pointed out that the government should continue to push the MSP of pulses keeping in mind the changing food habit of people and also to support farmers to grow more pulses.
In June this year, the government had hiked the MSP of Arhar to Rs 4,625 per quintal in comparison to Rs 4,350 during 2014-15 season. The increase was similar in the case of other two kharif pulses – Moong and Urad. But this hike failed to check the sky-rocketing the prices of pulses.
On June 17 this year, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) had affected a modest increase in MSP of pulses and decided to give a bonus of Rs 200 per quintal for pulses over and above the recommendations of the advisory body Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices(CACP).
The focus on pulses is expected to send a strong signal to farmers, particularly those in Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh that they should come out of the current sowing pattern and grow more pulses. Keeping in view of large surplus of cereals and huge deficit in pulses, Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said the increase in support price for pulses would provide impetus to farmers to increase acreage and invest in the productivity of pulses which the government has to import to meet the domestic requirement.
India imports about 4 million tonnes of pulses to meet the shortfall. The prices of pulses have risen by more than 64 per cent in the past one year due to decline in domestic production in 2014-15 crop year because of unfavourable weather conditions.