In the past five months and till date, The retail prices of pulses have substantially stabilised. On Thursday, the government claimed that the prices of gram, tur, urad and moong have either declined or remained stable in comparison to 2020.
The Consumer Price Index inflation for pulses has also seen a consistent decline during the last five months, from 10.01 per cent in June to 5.42 per cent in October. The pulses inflation rate was as high as 18.34 per cent in October 2020. Similarly, the Wholesale Price Index inflation for pulses has declined from 11.56 per cent in June to 5.36 per cent in October.
"Stability in the retail prices of pulses has been achieved on account of pre-emptive and proactive measures taken by the government such as taking import of tur, urad and moong from 'restricted to free category' with effect from May 15, in order to ensure smooth and seamless imports," the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution said in a release.
The free regime with respect to tur and urad has been extended; the last date for the bill of lading is December 31, and for customs clearance, it is January 31, 2022. This policy measure has been supported with facilitation measures and close monitoring of its implementation by the concerned departments or organisations. The import policy measures have resulted in substantial increase in the import of tur, urad and moong as compared to the corresponding period for the past two years.
As per government data, the April to November import for tur was 3,37,360 metric tonne (MT) in 2019-20; 1,71,125 MT in 2020-21 and 4,27,796 MT in 2021-22. Similarly, the data for April to November import of urad was 1,92,166 MT in 2019-20; 2,25,548 MT in 2020-21 and 3,56,178 MT in 2021-22. For moong, the same was 67,541 MT, 22,051 MT and 1,36,007 MT, respectively, for the same three years.
The data further showed that masur imports between April and November were 6,88,817 MT in 2019-20; 8,33,315 MT in 2020-21 and 4,59,839 MT in 2021-22, while chana imports were 2,45,651 MT, 1,35,874 MT and 1,31,327 MT for the same three years, respectively. In order to control price escalation on account of hoarding and resultant artificial scarcity of pulses, the government imposed a stock limit on all pulses except moong under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, on July 2, 2021.
"The stock limit order has had a salutary effect in terms of softening of prices, as such no further extension beyond October 31 was required. However, as a measure of caution, monitoring of stocks through web portal continues," the release added.
Among the major pulses, India's import dependence on masur is high and domestic availability and prices are vulnerable to overseas production. In order to soften the impact of higher international prices on domestic consumers, the government reduced the basic import duty on masur to zero and Agriculture Infrastructure and Development Cess (AIDC) to 10 per cent from July 27, 2021.
As a measure of market intervention, masur from the buffer stock has been made available to the states/Union Territories at a discounted price for supplies through retail outlets, in order to ensure availability to the consumers at an affordable price. This step has been further augmented with the release of masur stocks in the open market to soften the prices.
Now the protocol for fumigation of pulses at port of arrival has also been streamlined, with penalty charges waived till March 31, 2022. This would have a further positive impact on cooling retail prices of masur.
-With PTI Inputs