Record purchases of tur (arhar/red gram) by the government agencies in Karnataka has not helped reverse the bearish price trend in the pulses crop. On the contrary, prices of tur are ruling lower than those levels that prevailed at the beginning of the harvest season in key markets such as Kalaburagi and Yadgir in the north-eastern part of the State.
Bearish trend in prices
Procurement by the Nafed and State agencies in Karnataka for the kharif season 2017 ended last week and purchases have exceeded 3.35 lakh tonnes (lt) —higher than previous year’s 3.3 lt.
However, the record purchases have not helped stabilise the prices. In Kalaburagi, modal prices per quintal are now hovering at around ₹3,900 levels as against the ₹4,250 levels in early January. In Yadgir, modal prices are currently hovering around ₹4,303 as against ₹4,602 in early January.
In Maharashtra’s Latur and Akola markets, the modal prices are hovering between ₹3,900 and ₹4,100, lower than the Centre’s Minimum Support Prices. The Centre had declared an MSP of ₹5,250 and a bonus of ₹200 per quintal of tur. While procurement is currently going on in Maharashtra and Gujarat, the purchases under the price support scheme have ended in Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Karnataka had announced an additional incentive ₹550 a quintal.
Govt stocks, sales
Growers and the trade attribute the bearish trend to a host of factors such as excess supplies, muted demand and also the sales of previous year’s stocks by the Centre at regular intervals. The Centre recentlydisposed 7 lt of pulses including tur from the buffer stock of 20 lt to create space for the new crop. The government is the biggest stockholder of pulses at this point in time and regular releases is affecting the sentiment of the trade, which is not keen on taking any risk, trade sources said.
“It is a very complex situation as prices have not stabilised despite record purchases. Besides banning the imports totally, policy-makers need to explore other options such as introducing the Bhavantaar scheme to tackle the pulses crisis,” said Basavaraj Ingin, President of Karnataka Tur Growers Association. “There should be a stable national policy to balance both producers’ and consumers’ interest,” said TN Prakash Kammaradi, Chairman, Karnataka Agricultural Prices Commission.
Growers are still holding huge stocks and slack demand from millers — many of whom have turned financially weak — is also influencing the prices, Ingin said. He expects farmers who had taken up pulses in the non-traditional areas could switch over to other crops in the forthcoming kharif.
“The demand is muted and prices will remain bearish in the near-term. Prediction of a normal monsoon and sowing trend will influence the prices going ahead,” said Santosh Langar, a miller in Kalaburagi.
India’s pulses crop is seen at 23.95 million tonnes (mt) for 2017-18, as per second advance estimates against last year’s 23.13 mt. Production of tur, a kharif crop, is seen lower at 4.02 mt (4.87 mt).