Due to acute shortage of the availability of pulses during the year, India will be importing pulses between 6 to 7 million tonnes (MMT) at exorbitant prices resulting unprecedented hike in the market if adequate precautionary measures are not taken timely, according to a study Assocham.
According to the study, import of pulses in the current fiscal has already crossed preliminary estimates considered by government. The demand-supply mismatch of pulses is causing further pressure on the prices of pulses which may shoot in the near future and therefore, timely precautionary steps need to be taken.
Increase in prices of pulses may register highest growth due to untimely rains which has severely affected the Rabi crop 2.28 MMT and widened the gap between demand and supply to the extent of 6-7 MMT during 2015.
However, majority of the imports arrive during the second half of calendar year coinciding with the harvest and shipments from Canada, U.S.A., Australian and Europe. Moong, Urad and Tur shipments arrive from Myanmar at regular intervals. It needs to be understood that imported pulses pricing is greatly influenced by Indian demand and stock availability/crop size at origins, the study said.
“It needs to be understood that imported pulses pricing is greatly influenced by Indian demand and stock availability/crop size at origins. At times when Indian appetite is more, availability cannot be guaranteed due to limited trade in pulses globally as compared to cereals,” said DS Rawat, Secretary General, Assocham.
According to the study, Chana is the most important in the pulses scenario of the country. Chana prices started moving up from December 14 on reports of lower sowing. It is expected that Chana prices will start moving up from mid-June onwards when the monsoon picks up.
As against recommended daily requirement of 50 to 60 grams, current availability of pulses is less than 30 grams per day. Declining per capita availability of pulses and likely high prices in 2015 is a matter of serious concern on the nutritional security of the nation.
The actual availability of pulses for consumption is far below what the numbers show as supply. One also cannot ignore the skew in consumption with the top one-third of the population having higher disposable incomes consuming over 20 kg per capita and the bottom one-third being able to afford an estimated six-seven kg only (per annum), noted the study.
The major pulse-producing states – Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, which together account for about 80 percent of the total production may witness less rainfall affecting the output and prices.
The pulses are grown across the country with the highest share coming from Madhya Pradesh (24 percent), Uttar Pradesh (16 percent), Maharashtra (14 percent), Andhra Pradesh (10 percent), Karnataka (7 percent) and Rajasthan (6 percent), which together share about 77 percent of the total pulse production, while the remaining 23 percent is contributed by Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand, the Assocham study said.
Chana is the major rabi pulse crop, which is estimated at 8.28 MMT by government. However, trade estimates place it at 7.5 MMT. Indicatively trade sources estimate kharif pulses production at 5.3 MMT and rabi pulses at 12.2 MMT which add up to 17.5 MMT for the crop year 2014-15, which is a decline of 2.2 8 MMT over last year, added the study.
The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) for pulses is currently at a two year high. During April 2015 at 264.1 has already crossed the earlier highest level of 260.8 of September, 2012 with annual inflation at the WPI level crossing the 15 per cent mark, sounding alarm bells for those managing food inflation, the Assocham noted with concern.