Under pressure to control pulses prices, the Centre is hopeful of clinching a long-term deal with Mozambique for assured supply of lentils after the two countries had positive talks last week. Indian delegations last week visited pulses growing nations, Mozambique and Myanmar, to explore government-to-government arrangement for assured supply of lentils, especially tur, on a long term basis.
“The delegation is back with long term solution in sight. The final draft is awaiting response of Mozambique government. The Government of India is expecting positive response as soon as possible,” Consumer Affairs Secretary Hem Pande told PTI.
Pande, who led the delegation to the African nation, said the talks were “positive” and definitely the country’s pulses supply would improve once the long-term arrangement is signed.
“One thing is sure, we want long-term arrangement of assured supply with both Mozambique and Myanmar. The road map has to be in line with the arrangement between two sovereign governments and not private traders,” he said.
“The work is in progress. They are looking at prices and other logistic issues like port. Let’s see,” he added. Asked if India will talk to other African nations, Pande said, “If Mozambique model works, it might work for other pulses growing countries like Malawi and Tanzania.”
Mozambique grows around 70,000 tonnes pulses, mainly tur dal and some urad. The entire quantity is exported to India and to meet NRI demand in other parts of world. Same is with Myanmar which produces about 50,000 tonnes of tur.
Even if India signs a deal with Mozambique, tur dal cannot be supplied immediately as the latter’s rabi tur crop is expected to arrive only by September-October.
In domestic market, retail pulses prices have risen unabated for more than a year and at present ruling close to Rs 200/kg in view of seven million tonnes shortfall in domestic output following two drought years.
To tame price rise, the government is creating buffer stock of pulses up to 8 lakh tonnes from domestic procurement and imports. It has imposed stock holding limits on pulses to check hoarding, banned chana futures and also selling tur and urad at subsidised rates to give relief to consumers.
India’s pulses output is estimated to be 17.06 million tonnes in 2015-16 crop year (July-June), marginally lower than the previous year’s production of 17.15 million tonnes. But the output is lower than the overall demand of 23.5 million tonnes.