The government plans to extend urad dal imports of up to 4,00,000 tonnes a fiscal for another three months till June this year in view of likely domestic shortages, according to sources.
The Indian Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA) has demanded the government for removal of quantitative curbs on urad as the country is likely to face a shortage of about 50 per cent in production this year on account of damage to the 2019 kharif crop.
Last month, the commerce ministry had raised the quota of urad import from 1.5 lakh tonnes to 4 lakh tonnes for the fiscal ending March 2020. Import was allowed to be undertaken only by millers and refiners.
According to sources, "So far, only 2 lakh tonnes of urad has been imported. The pulses situation was reviewed recently by the concerned ministeries and a consensus has emerged to give time till June for undertaking the import of rest of the quota."
IPGA Vice Chairman Bimal Kothari had recently said the country produces about 25-30 lakh tonnes of urad dal a year. There could be 50 per cent fall in output because of severe damage to the kharif crop.
"To meet the domestic demand, the government should remove quantitative restrictions on urad and allow free shipments," he had said.
Meanwhile, the government has decided to offload 5 lakh tonne pulses from its buffer stock to both state governments as well as in the open market.
Sources said about 1 lakh tonnes of pulses will be sold to state governments at not less than minimum support price (MSP) under the Price Support Scheme (PSS).
Another one lakh tonne of pulses, especially milled pulses will be offloaded in the open market at above MSP level under the Price Stabailisation Fund (PSF), the source added.
The state governments are expected to lift more pulses from the buffer stock in the coming days as prices of some pulses are on rise.
Cooperative NAFED is also planning to sell pulses from the buffer stock to institutional buyers like hotels and big retail stores, the sources added.
The country has imported 21.4 lakh tonnes of pulses during April-November of this fiscal and total shipments are expected to touch 30 lakh tonnes at the end of this fiscal.
India''s dependence on pulses import is reducing as domestic production has been increasing in the last few years on account of government measures.
Pulses production has improved to the level of 230 lakh tonne since 2016-17 from 160-180 lakh tonnes level. However, the production is still short of the annual demand of 250 lakh tonne.