Govt extends stock holding limits for pulses till December 3
A deficient south-west monsoon due to the El Nino weather pattern has shrunk the area sown with various types of widely consumed pulses
Traders of pulses will have to adhere to strict stock limits till December 3 as a measure against hoarding that could lead to higher prices, the consumer affairs ministry said in a notification on Monday, extending the period to restrict inventory from October 31 announced earlier.
A deficient south-west monsoon due to the El Nino weather pattern has shrunk the area sown with various types of widely consumed pulses, considered essential items. It is likely to stoke prices, analysts said. India depends on imports to meet its domestic demand for lentils.
In June, to ease supplies of pulses amid high inflation, the Centre had imposed caps on the quantity of two widely consumed variety of pulses -- tur (pigeon pea) and urad (black gram) – that traders were allowed to store, a measure known as stockholding limits.
Stock limits, imposed under the Essential Commodities Act, ensure traders and wholesalers can’t hold more than the prescribed quantities of a commodity, thereby minimising the scope of hoarding to inflate prices.
The limit for stocks with wholesalers and chain retailers has been cut from 200 tonne earlier to 50 tonne, according to the notification on Monday. The quantity of stocks for large millers has been reduced from total production in the preceding three months, or 25% of annual capacity, whichever is higher, to last one month production, or 10% of annual capacity, whichever is higher, the notification said.
Importers are not allowed to hold imported stocks beyond 30 days from the date of customs clearance, the new measures stipulate.
Although the area under rice, the summer staple, has expanded to a record 41 million hectares, pulses, grown mostly in rain-dependent farm belts, continue to be a pressure point, with sowing trailing last year’s levels. Pulses output is set to decline this year, as the total area under pulses is down by nearly 4% to 1.2 million hectares.
India depends on imports of about 2.49 million tonnes of pulses a year to meet local demand. Higher local production over the past seven years has cut India’s reliance on imports, which stood at a high of 5.8 million tonnes in 2015-16. India purchases pulses from a host of countries, including Myanmar and Mozambique.
The fresh steps have been invoked to “prevent hoarding and elicit the continuous release of tur and urad in sufficient quantities to the market and make tur dal and urad dal available at affordable prices for the consumers”, the ministry said in a statement.
In May 2021, the Centre has allowed duty-free imports of three pulses -- tur, urad and moong (green gram) – to ease prices of lentils. The import policy measures had resulted in a substantial increase in incoming shipments, boosting supplies and reducing prices.