The drought-like situation, 40% dip in rabi sowing and the Union government’s restriction on imports of some pulses from April 1 have started pushing up the prices of chickpea, moth (Turkish gram or ‘matki’), black lentil (urad dal), split pigeon pea (toor dal) and split chickpea (chana dal).
The price rise has been to the tune of Rs4 to Rs8 per kg for some pulses and Rs8 per kg of chickpea in the retail market. The wholesale prices have gone up from Re 1 to Rs5 per kg for various pulses and Rs10 per kg in the case of ‘moth’ lentil.
Traders stressed with the government restricting pulses’ import, a further rise in prices was imminent. The import restriction would cause another spell of short supply, they added.
Dhaval Shah, the director of Jairaj Group in Market Yard, said the government recently restricted the import of some pulses in a bid to provide farmers with a better price for their produce.
“Anyway, supplies from farmers are less this year compared to the same period last year as the rabi sowing was low this season. Whatever stock the farmers have needs to fetch a better price, hence the import restriction. If the import of pulses has been restricted in the current period, it is bound to have an impact on the supplies and prices in the future,” he said.
The government has restricted imports of peas, tur, urad and mung dals. “Considering all these factors, we expect prices of some pulses to rise by another 10% in the next fortnight to one month,” said Shah.
Another wholesaler said with the elections around the corner, the import restriction on pulses was bound to help the government win over some farmers.
Retailer Bharatlal Unecha of Ganpat Super Market in Gokhalenagar said the prices of six commodities among grains and pulses had gone up in the past one week to 15 days.
“These include pulses like mung, chana lentil, urad, moth lentil, chickpeas and sago. While import restriction and less supply from the farm-level are responsible for the increase in the prices of some lentils and chickpeas, sago and moth lentil prices have gone up drastically (Rs30 and Rs20 per kg, respectively) because both are now being sold through ‘societies’ in Salem (Tamil Nadu) instead of the direct selling by the sellers there earlier,” said Unecha.
He said moth lentil and sago came to Maharashtra mainly from Tamil Nadu.
Ashish Nahar, the owner of Dalal Ashish Traders in Market Yard said ‘tur’ and chickpeas supplies were short because of less crop this season due to water shortage in villages for the past few months.
“Also, the demand for pulses has been high considering that the prices of vegetables have been shooting up on and off. The government’s annual limit of 6.5 lakh metric tonnes of imports of some pulses has pushed stockists to hoard more pulses anticipating a shortage in the future,” said Nahar.
He said the overstocking was also pushing the pulses’ prices north. “Farmers anyway have low stock in this period. But they, too, seem to be withholding some commodities anticipating a higher price later,” said Nahar.