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Pulses: Govt to create 40,000 tonnes of buffer stock to check prices

New Delhi: The government on Friday said it will buy 40,000 tonnes of pulses from farmers to create a buffer stock for controlling prices, which have soared up to Rs 190 per kg in the retail markets.

The government will purchase 30,000 tonnes of tur dal and 10,000 tonnes of urad dal from farmers at market rates, Minister of State for Agriculture Sanjeev Kumar Balyan told reporters here today.

In order to give relief to common man, he said the Kendriya Bhandar and Mother Dairy’s Safal outlets would sell imported tur at Rs 120-130 per kg in Delhi. Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have also started selling imported lentils.

Earlier this week, an inter-ministerial group, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, decided to create a buffer stock of pulses preferably through imports. The Group also decided to use the Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF) to boost supply and check prices.

“We have decided to create a buffer stock of 40,000 tonnes of tur and urad dals. Through Nafed, we will buy 30,000 tonnes of tur and 10,000 tonnes of urad at market rate from farmers,” Balyan said, adding the Nafed would start procuring kharif pulses from the next month onwards.

Cooperative Nafed will be given funds from the PSF, managed by the Agriculture Ministry, to buy pulses. The buffer stock will be offloaded to provide relief to consumers from rising prices, the minister said.

On imports, Balyan said the government through state-owned MMTC has imported 5,000 tonnes of tur. It will soon finalise the contracts for importing additional 2,000 tonnes of tur.

The minister said there is shortage of pulses in the global market and prices too have increased.

“The price increase in the domestic market is mainly due to shortage in production owing to poor rainfall. Private traders are taking advantage of this situation,” he said.

The prices of pulses have risen unabated for the past few months due to a fall in domestic output by about 2 million tonnes to 17.20 million tonnes in 2014-15 crop year (July-June) owing to deficient monsoon and unseasonal rains.

Retail prices of tur dal have risen up to Rs 190 per kg in most parts of the country, from Rs 85 per kg a year ago. Similarly, urad dal prices rose to nearly Rs 190 per kg from Rs 100 per kg in the year-ago period.

Balyan further said that pulses from the buffer stock would be distributed through states, Kendriya Bhandar and Mother Dairy’s Safal outlets to consumers.

He also said that state-owned Food Corporation of India (FCI) will also start pulses procurement from farmers at minimum support price (MSP) this year.

“The decision on FCI pulses procurement was taken a few months back. A fresh cabinet note has been moved seeking direction whether Agriculture Ministry or Food Ministry will fund the pulses procurement to be undertaken by FCI,” he said.

Asked if the government has decided to buy pulses from farmers in view of ongoing Bihar elections, the Minister said, “The decision on pulses procurement was taken six months back. We decided to create buffer stock now.”

The Minister said that there is a gap in supply as domestic pulses production is expected to be 18.32 million tonnes this year against consumption of 22 million tonnes.

Private traders are expected to buy 4.1 million tonnes of pulses from overseas market this year, he said, declining to give the target for pulses imports under the government quota.

He also said that global prices of pulses have shot up after the government started importing.

Besides imports, the government has taken several measures to check price rise. It has imposed restrictions on holding of pulses stock beyond a ceiling and taken action against hoarders and black marketeers.