India has a dal problem – open import policy is hurting prices and farmers -Shweta Saini, Pulkit Khatri and Siraj Hussain
Pulses, except masur, are selling lower than MSP. Government must review its policy before it’s too late.
Introduced as part of the Narendra Modi government’s aggressive measures last year to tame the spike in prices of pulses, it is time to review the open import policy of tur and urad. These pulses, in addition to chana and mung, have been trading below their MSP levels for a while now. With an open import policy till March 2023, the likelihood of prices rising this year are also grim.
Our assessment for kharif 2022 reveals a likely diversion of 8 to 10 per cent of pulses acreage to more lucrative crops like maize, oilseeds like soybean, and cash crops like cotton. But can India afford such a diversion? Successive governments have strategically invested in expanding pulses production. Given that the prices of pulses have now moderated, can the consumer bias in the policy now be turned around in favour of farmers? We analyse why this is important.
What happened last year?
Following deflation in the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) for pulses in 2017 and 2018, inflation started soaring at double-digits from February 2019. In 2020 and 2021, the price of pulses grew further. At the retail level too, double-digit inflation rates haunted 2020 and continued till September 2021. Pulses selling expensively included chana (gram), tur (arhar/pigeon pea), urad, masur (lentil), and moong, to some extent.
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ThePrint.in, 23 June, 2022, https://theprint.in/opinion/india-has-a-dal-problem-open-import-policy-is-hurting-prices-and-farmers/1007561/?fbclid=IwAR3EuO3Cz6fY047D62gwbymtoevmoT3irIIWmeZfUQPGYl4emYxxJbFF1aE