India Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA) predicted a shortage of pulses in 2019-20. India must increase pulses growing area instead of import quotas to reduce shortage and inflation. Recently, DGFT held a meeting to discuss on additional import of 2.5 lakh Urad Dal.
Increase in Import Quota
IPGA forecast a shortfall of 10% in the production of pulses in India. Further, it mentioned the need to import three million tonnes of pulses to meet the demand. Centre had set a target for producing 26.30 million metric tonnes for 2019-20. Citing the shortage, the director-general of foreign trade (DGFT) has increased import quota from 2.5 lakh to 4 lakh tonnes during 2019-20. However, this quota is only for dal millers who use unprocessed dal. DGFT approved 1778 applications out of 1819 and provided import quota of 139 tonnes to each mill.
Reasons for Shortfall
Bimal Kothari, vice chairman of IPGA, stated that heavy and extended monsoons have resulted in the loss of pulses. He further estimated a 30% and 50% decrease in moong dal and urad dal production in 2019-20. In a workshop organized with the National Research Council of Canada, experts highlighted the problem of inappropriate technology. They said that lack of technology at field level has mounted post-harvest losses by 10%.
Removal of Import Duties and Quotas
Though area sown under pulses has increased from 7.80 lakh ha to 157.33 lakh ha, India still faces a shortage. As a result, the government extended Urad imports for this fiscal year till June to meet the domestic demand. The country has already imported 21.4 lakh tonnes of pulses during April-November 2020. Further, the government will sell 5 lakh tonnes of pulses from buffer stock to state government at MSP. Moreover, it will offload one lakh tonnes of pulses in the open market under PSF. IPGA also demanded that the government must reduce import duty on green peas because it is a good source of improving micro nutrient deficiencies.
In all, the country needs to adopt technological changes to eliminate post-harvest losses of pulses. Farmers must be encouraged to grow more pulses to decrease India’s dependence on imports.