Pulse traders demand lifting of export ban

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Kolkata, March 25 (IANS) In view of bumper crop and stable prices in the market, pulse traders on Saturday demanded “removal of stock limits” and “lifting of ban on exports” of pulses, particularly for the varieties which are traded below the minimum support price (MSP).

“Our association has demanded the removal of stock limits and lifting of exports ban on pulses, particularly of the varieties which are currently being traded below MSP so that falling prices could be arrested,” India Pulses and Grains Association’s Chairman Pravin Dongre said here.

“Country’s pulses production, taking both Kharif and Rabi into account, is expected to be over 22 million tonnes this year. Prices will also remain in a stable range,” Dongre said.

Except Kabuli Chana, there are export bans for all other crops, he said on the sidelines of the National Pulses Seminar.

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Traders also said if the prices continue to remain muted, farmers might switch over to other crops.

“The government fixed the MSP for Arhar at Rs 5,050 per quintal, but due to bumper crops farmers are selling it at about Rs 3,300-3,400 a quintal, which is not encouraging for farmers. They may switch over to other crops,” Uttar Pradesh Dal Millers’ Association Chairperson Mithilesh Kumar Gupta said.

Last November, the Central government had increased the MSP for pulses.

In 2016-17, the MSPs for Kharif pulses namely Arhar, Moong and Urad were set at Rs 5,050 a quintal, Rs 5,225 and Rs 5,000 per quintal respectively. The MSPs for gram and masur were fixed at Rs 4,000 and Rs 3,950 per quintal respectively.

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According to Dongre, October to September is considered as the pulses season and India’s pulse production was at around 18 million tonnes last year (2015-16) while the country imported around six million tonnes of lentils.

“Despite a bumper crop this year, imports of about four million tonnes will be required in this year as the domestic consumption is usually about 25-26 million tonnes a year,” he said.

Domestic consumption pattern is also price elastic, that means, when prices are less, consumption goes up. “Low prices will lead to an increase in consumption,” Dongre said.

Traders are also worried about possible imposition of import duty on imported pulses.

“We are getting messages that the Centre may consider import duty on pulses at about 20 per cent for yellow peas and 10 per cent on other crops. We don’t know whether it will be done or not, but it would be detrimental for the consumers and traders,” Dongre added.

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