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Record pulses crop last year, good monsoon, should help balance prices, despite global shortage

There has been concern over production of pulses this year, as the area under cultivation across the country has been lower by more than 11%

The prices of pulses such as tur dal, urad dal, chana are expected to remain stable, despite the reduced area cultivated this year, as the crop from a good monsoon this year and stocks from the record production last year should balance prices.

"There is a 10% drop in the acreage for pulses and the production from other pulses-growing countries like Canada and Australia has fallen this year," says Bimal Kothari, vice-president, India Pulses and Grain Association (IPGA). "But this won't have any impact on the prices here as there was good production last year and the monsoon is still on, which might boost production."

Sageraj Bariya, managing partner of Equitorials research firm, says, "The prices have already risen, so there won't be any further increase. According to traders and wholesalers, last year's inventory is already piled up."

According to an estimate by the agriculture ministry, total sowing of pulses this year has fallen by 11%, from last year's 11.16 million hectares to 9.93 million hectares till 18th August.

According to the pulses and grain association, "India is having a good monsoon this year and the sowing process for the kharif crop has been good. This will give good subsoil moisture and assist in increasing the rabi crop acreage for chana and peas which is sowed in December and harvested in March. As a matter of fact, for the first time in the past five years, prices of pulses have contributed negatively to inflation and prices have remained within the reach of the common man."

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) says rainfall was 26% above normal in the week ending 19th August.

However, there has been adverse weather in Australia, where production of peas and chana has dropped by as much as half. In Canada, production of yellow peas has dropped from an average of 2.5-2 million tonnes.

Yellow peas constitute about 15% of the pulses imported by India. "There has been a fall in production of yellow peas in Canada this year, but this won't have any impact on the supply chain as we have enough storage. This is the case also with other pulses such as tur and urad dal," Mr Kothari said.

The Indian pulses industry contributes around 23% (15-17 million tonnes) of the total world pulses production, which is the highest by any single country. Consumption is pegged at 18-20 million tonnes and about 26 million hectares is under pulses cultivation. Despite this, India is the biggest importer of pulses, consuming about 15% of the world pulses trade.

Mr Kothari explained, "Our average yield per hectare is at around 600-700kg/hectare, which is lower than the world average of 1200kg/hectare, mainly due to the quality of seeds used in India. A lot of research and development is required. Farmers are also migrating to more remunerative crops like cotton, wheat, rice, oilseeds etc."

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