New Delhi, June 21 (IANS) A high-level official team is headed for Mozambique to explore imports of pulses and also the feasibility of contract farming in the southern African nation.
The team is being led by Consumer Affairs Ministry Secretary Hem Pande, official sources said.
“The delegation consisting of senior officials from the Ministries of Commerce, Agriculture and the Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation of India (MMTC) will explore both short-term and long-term measures to import pulses from Mozambique on government to government basis,” a statement from the union Food and Consumer Affairs Ministry said here.
A similar official delegation is already in Myanmar to discuss the availability of pulses for import, the statement said.
The government is planning government-to-government contract with countries like Myanmar to import the commodities for enhanced buffer stocks in the country.
During a recent meeting of a high-powered inter-ministerial team headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the government decided to enhance the buffer stock of pulses in view of growing prices to 8 lakh tonnes, a significant jump from the previous target of 1.5 lakh tonnes.
The visit of a delegation led by Consumer Affairs Secretary to Mozambique is significant as the government is also in favour of exploring the feasibility of contract farming of pulses in some of the African countries, including Mozambique.
“The farming remains highly unorganised in Mozambique and other African countries like Tanzania. Agriculture is also done at a very small scale compared to the land available, hence the team can explore the option to take land for contract farming with the involvement of private players,” a Food Ministry source told IANS.
Pulses like Tur, Arhar and a few similar to Indian varieties are grown in these countries, the source said.
India, the largest producer of pulses and also consumer, imported about 5.5 million tonnes last fiscal through private trade, but it was not enough due to growing demand to keep the prices under check.
Production of pulses is estimated to have declined to 17.06 million tonnes in 2015-16 crop year (July-June) due to drought, whereas domestic demand is around 23-24 million tonnes.
The union Food Ministry is anxious about the stocks too as the states are not showing enough enthusiasm for procuring pulses from the buffer stock.
The government has so far prepared a stock of 1.15 lakh tonnes and is also offloading pulses to the states for retail distribution at a cheaper rate.
The central government has urged states to procure pulses from the buffer stock at a subsidised rate of Rs 66 per kg and sell in retail markets at Rs 120 per kg.
Cooperation in various sectors including agro-industry were explored during the visit of Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi to India last year and during his talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sources said.