Pulses import up 20% to 371,334 tonnes in April-May to meet domestic demand

India’s urad output is estimated to be 1.8 million tonnes (mt) this year, as compared with 2.6 mt in the 2022-23 (July-June) crop year. Tur is estimated to be at par with the previous season’s 3.3 mt but the industry expects production to be 2.7-2.85 mt, falling short of the domestic consumption of around 4.5 mt.

Production has fallen for two consecutive crop years

Production has fallen for two consecutive crop years (2022-23 and 2023-24) because of unseasonal rains in October 2022, deficit rainfall during the monsoon season and prolonged dry spells in major growing states throughout last year caused by El Nino. 

This has kept prices of tur and urad firm throughout 2023.

Also Read: Centre plans stringent policy measures for reducing pulses and edible oil imports in its 100-day agenda

On Wednesday, tur dal was sold at 160.3 per kg, up 27.3% year-on-year, on average in the retail market. The all India average retail price of urad dal was 126.4 a kg, a rise of 13.5% on-year, according to data from the consumer affairs ministry.

Tur imports went up to 123,750 tonnes in April-May this year; against 122,307 tonnes during the corresponding period last year. Similarly, urad imports were at 133,120 tonnes, compared to 57,865 tonnes a year ago. However, masur (lentil) imports fell to 114,464 tonnes in April-May of FY25 from last year’s 128,446 tonnes after the country purchased 1.2 mt in FY24, the official informed.

In the last financial year, India’s pulses imports were 84% higher year-on-year to 4.65 mt, the highest in six years, from 2.53 mt in FY23. In value terms, imports in the year jumped 93% to $3.75 billion.

Lower production due to climate issues and the government’s decision to scrap import taxes to bring down prices before the election led to the surge in imports, according to industry experts.

Higher imports by India, the world’s biggest buyer, producer and consumer of protein-rich pulses, have been supporting global prices and helping bring down stocks in exporting countries such as Canada, Australia, and Myanmar.

Also Read: Fearing shortage, Centre plans to procure 1 million tonnes of chana dal at market price to replenish buffer stock

India allowed duty-free imports of yellow peas last December and later extended it thrice till October 2024. 

India, which relies on imports to meet its domestic demand of about 28 mt, primarily purchases these three pulses from Australia, Canada, Russia, Myanmar, Mozambique, Tanzania, Sudan and Malawi. Despite some improvement since 2011, the gap between demand and supply of pulses is widening and has necessitated annual import of 2.5-3 mt of pulses in the past few years.

Queries sent to the consumer affairs, commerce and agriculture department remained unanswered till press time.

Output loss of some pulses, especially tur, kept their prices firm throughout the last season, driving the government to take preventive measures, including stock disclosure and a limit on stock holding capacity by the industry entities.

“The import requirement for the 2024-25 financial year will likely be greater as it will be difficult to tame pulses prices in the view of a desi chickpea supply gap,” Jain, founder of AgPulse Analytica. He added that while pulse prices are northbound, government intervention by selling Bharat dal and/or extending the pea import timeline could change this trajectory.


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Published: 12 Jun 2024, 06:01 PM IST

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