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Pulses import may fall 60% next fiscal on good crop expectations: IPGA

There would be lower imports next year also because traders might not be able to buy from overseas market, taking advantage of loopholes in the import quota order


India's pulses import may drop by 60 per cent to one million tonne in 2020-21, if the current curbs on shipment continue amid expectation of good domestic crop and availability of huge buffer stock, industry body IPGA said on Friday.

There would be lower imports next year also because traders might not be able to buy from overseas market, taking advantage of loopholes in the import quota order, which the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) is contesting in the Jaipur High Court to tighten it, Indian Pulses and Grains Association (IGPA) Chairman Jitu Bheda told reporters.

"Total imports are expected to reach 2.5 million tonne in the current year, of which about 1.5 million tonne has been done, taking stay from Chennai and Jaipur High Courts on the DGFT quota order and much of it is yellow peas, black mapte (urad) and green peas," Bheda said on the sidelines of 5th edition of Pulses Conclave 2020.

The rest one million tonne has been imported as per the government's quota this year, he added.

The government has imposed a quantitative restriction on import of key pulses especially yellow peas, pigeon peas (tur), chickpeas (chana) and green gram (moong) to protect local farmers amid steady increase in domestic production to 23.40 million tonne in the 2018-19 crop year (July-June).

Light Speckled bean (rajmah) and blackeye beans (lobiya) are allowed to import without restrictions. India is the world's largest consumer of pulses.

"Assuming the government continues with current quota system and considering higher domestic crop and buffer stock, maximum 1 million tonnes of pulses can be imported next year and mostly rajmah and lobiya," Bheda said.

He also said the government may increase quota on import of black mapte and green gram as the domestic shortage is still about 1.5 million tonne and 1 million tonne, respectively.

At present, the import quota on black mapte is 2,50,000 tonne and green gram is 1,50,000 tonne.

"We have to import these two pulses as domestic prices are ruling higher than the minimum support price, which may put pressure on retail rates," Bheda added.

The IPGA chairman said the industry body has requested the government to extend the current quota on black mapte for two months till May as the crop is yet to be harvested in Myanmar, the only supplier of this commodity in the world.

There is no issue with regard to import of green gram as it is grown in many countries, including Africa, he added.

On illegal imports from Nepal, the industry body said the government should curb such shipments, taking advantage of softening of global rates of pulses following India restricting imports.

The government is targeting a record production of pulses at 26.30 million tonne in the ongoing 2019-20 crop year, of which 16.20 million tonne from the Rabi season and the rest from Kharif season.

At present, Kharif crop is being harvested, while Rabi crop prospects especially chickpeas (chan) seem to be bright, Bheda said.

There is a buffer stock of 3.4 million tonne of pulses at present in the country, according to cooperative Nafed, which has procured on behalf of the government to ensure minimum support price (MSP) to farmers.

Nafed Additional Managing Director S K Singh said the cooperative will continue procurement in the current year as well. It plans to buy more of chickpeas from Rabi crop as prices are already below the MSP on expectation of bumper production.