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Pulses prices may soften on improved supplies

Prices of pulses are likely to witness a softening trend in the new year with harvest of key varieties such as tur and urad and the imports including the yellow peas set to boost the domestic supplies. This is even as the chana crop for 2023-24 rabi season may see a decline of 10-15 per cent over the previous year’s output mainly on drop in acreage, according to the trade.

The India Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA) chairman Bimal Kothari, in his initial remarks at the webinar on Rabi Pulses Sowing Scenario and Tur Outlook 2023-24, said the chana crop would be lower by 10-15 per cent on the decline in acreage.

The delayed onset and erratic monsoon witnessed this year had impacted the sowing of tur, while the recent showers are expected to help increase the yields, Kothari said. While the Agriculture Ministry’s first advance estimates have pegged the tur output at 33 lakh tonnes (lt), the country is short by 12 lt, which is being imported from Myanmar and East Africa to meet the domestic demand of 45 lt.

Climate change and events such as El Nino have impacted the pulses production. To ensure the nutritional security and avaialbity of tur and urad, IPGA has been closely interacting with Brazil, Argentina and Australia to explore and facilitate the production of these pulses in those respective countries and supply to the Indian market.

Sowing of chana is almost complete and the acreage has reduced by almost 10 per cent. “We had large crop size of 12-13 million tonnes in the last couple of years. However, this year there will be a decline of 10-15 per cent. The Government has recently allowed duty free import of yellow peas up to March 31, 2024, which should help regulate the prices of chana and other pulses in the country,” he said.

Further, Kothari said that IPGA has been advocating for a free trade policy, which should be in the interest of farmers, consumers, millers and the trade. “We have recommended that the Government allow free import with the caveat that you impose certain amount of duty so that the landing cost of the imported produce is equivalent to or little higher than the MSP so that when the prices go high, the imports will trigger and will take care of the interest of the consumer. If the imports are cheaper then duty structure will be such that it will not be workable to import into the Indian market,” Kothari said.

Myanmar supplies

Ankush Jain, Business Head – Pulses at Olam Agri, said pigeon pea acreage was lower by about 5 per cent largely on account of weather. Due to the long dry spell, the height of the crop was impacted, but the November rains supported the corp in some areas. “Yields can be better than last year but less than a normal year leading to crop estimates closer to the last year,” Jain said. The pipeline with the trade is empty and farmers are yet to bring the crop to market as there has been a delay in the harvest. Over the next 30-45 days, the market may find the right price, Jain said.

Jain said that due to high prices there was a demand destruction of around 15-20 per cent with consumers shifting to other pulses. India’s pigeon pea imports are likely to be around 9 lakh tonnes during 2024. The issue of export ban from Mozambique, the political uncertainty and the currency volatility in Myanmar would be key variables in supplies, Jain said. However, one good news from Myanmar is that it would be able to supply 3.25-3.5 lakh tonnes during 2024.

Shyam Narasaria, President, Overseas Agro Traders Association in Myanmar, said production of tur in Myanmar in 2024 is seen at 3.5 lt (2.6 lt) but can go up to 3.75-4 lt on favourable weather. Prices of tur could go down by about 10 per cent from the current levels going forward, he said.

Narasaria said urad production is also seen higher at 8.5 lt (7.5 lt). Exports of urad to India are seen higher at 8.5 lt from 7.21 lt last year.

Narasaria stressed upon the need for India to have a consistent import policy which would result in ensuring steady supplies. Also, the recent the Indian-Rupee denominated trade between Myanmar and India and the recent policy change would result in more traders offering their product directly to the India market, he said.

Manek Gupta, MD, Viterra India, said the chana acreage is lagging by about 10 per cent and the weather over the next three months is crucial for the crop. Though Australia is seen a potential supplier of chana to India, it may not have exportable surplus as the crop and carry over stocks were lower in that country.

B Krishna Murthy, Managing Director of 4P International, said the kharif urad crop was impacted both in terms of quantity and quality due to the weather. Rabi urad acreage was marginally down at 3.4 lakh ha.

Domestic crop

The harvest in Telangana is in full swing, while the Tamil Nadu harvest will start from January 15. The forecast of heavy rains during the third week of December for Tamil Nadu will be a concern. The Andhra crop has been washed away by rains, while there will be a small crop but a delay in harvest. With higher supplies expected from February, prices will soften, Krishna Murthy said.


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