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Dal prices may come down on cheaper imports from Canada

world Updated: Nov 21, 2016 21:41 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
dal

Canada accounted for around 43% of India’s dal imports in 2015-16.(Hindustan Times)

While Canada has been the largest source country for the import of the humble dal into India, there may be much on the plate for consumers with a taste for the staple over the winter and that too at palatable prices.

Prices of these items peaked in April, but the industry in Canada anticipates a “softening”. Carl Potts, executive director of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, said: “We are seeing prices coming down, lowering a bit. What will happen into the new year remains to be seen.”

Canada, surprisingly enough, puts a lot of dal on Indian plates. And within this North American nation, Saskatchewan province is the major production base. In 2015-2016, India imported dal worth $1.519 billion from Canada. India brought in 20% of its total requirement for this commodity and Canada accounted for about 43% of the imports. In the same period, more than 60% of pea imports and 90% of lentil imports were from Canada.

They didn’t come cheap. Potts pointed out that prices of pulses in India had risen sharply over the last couple of years, in large part due to weaker than average monsoons and reduced output in the country, creating a larger than normal need for imports. Canada upped its production and export, as farmers increased planted area for lentils by more than 45% in 2016, after a rise of more than 25% the year before.

Read more: Modi govt hasn’t got the pulses math right. Five reasons why

But the high prices commanded earlier in the year have eased. “Imports of Canadian pulses have helped to ensure a steady supply of staple foods during a time when India’s production was reduced,” Potts said. 

With the 2016 Indian crop rebounding significantly from the drought-reduced output in the past couple of years, prices in India and Canada have softened from the highs in 2015 and early 2016.

“However, due to strong and growing demand, we expect strong pulse imports from India again this year, although lower than in the last year,” Potts said. 

The Canadian publication Financial Post quoted a market analyst as saying that prices of top quality laird lentils, for instance, had “tumbled” 34% in Saskatchewan last month.

 This trend could make Indian meals that much more affordable as the chill sets in.