PTI| New Delhi | India
In view of a likely shortage of some varieties of pulses, industry body IPGA on Thursday demanded that the government remove restrictions on import of peas and urad (black gram). Presently, import duty on peas is 50 per cent. On top of it, the government had last month not only fixed a minimum import price (MIP) of Rs 200 per kg on peas but also allowed to import only 1.50 lakh tonne till March 2020 in a bid to restrict shipments and protect domestic farmers.
In case of urad, the government has fixed import quota of 4 lakh tonne for this fiscal. "With the kind of restrictions imposed on peas, it is just not feasible to import and the landed cost will be over Rs 300 per kg," India Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA) Chairman Jitu Beda told reporters here.
Peas mainly include four varieties -- yellow peas, green peas, dun peas and kaspa peas. The country is dependent on import as domestic output is lower than the demand, he said while announcing about a conclave to be held in Maharashtra on February 12-14. India imports about 30 lakh tonne of peas annually, of which yellow peas comprise about 5 lakh tonne and green peas about 2.50 lakh tonne, he added.
Elaborating, IPGA Vice Chairman Bimal Kothari said the import quota of 1.50 lakh tonne peas cannot be met by March 2020 as the crop in importing countries, especially Myanmar, will be harvested after March. In fact, the government should allow unrestricted import of dry green peas because the country would face shortage in the coming months. Fresh green peas are available at a lower price only between December-February, while in remaining period of a year, the demand is met through imports, he said.
Kothari also mentioned that the restriction on yellow peas has been imposed on fear that this variety can be substituted for chana (chick peas), the domestic production of which has risen this year putting pressure on prices. "The restrictions were imposed to protect farmers, but consumers should be given choice to eat," he said.
With regard to urad import, Kothari said the country which produces on an average about 25-30 lakh tonne of urad, is likely to face a shortage of about 50 per cent this year as the kharif crop has been affected badly due to rains. "To meet the domestic demand, the government should remove quantitative restrictions on urad and allow free shipments," he said.
The industry body has made a representation to the government in this regard, he added. According to IPGA, India has imported 21.4 lakh tonne of pulses during April-November of this fiscal and total shipments are expected to touch 30 lakh tonne at the end of 2019-20.
The country had imported total 23.7 lakh tonne of pulses during 2018-19. India's domestic production has improved to the level of 230 lakh tonne since 2016-17 from 160-180 lakh tonne level due to government measures. The production is still short of the annual demand of 250 lakh tonne.