Pulse production could increase by 18 per cent to 20 million tonnes this crop year on better monsoon which would help bring down retail prices, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Wednesday.
Paswan said the Centre is committed to control retail prices of pulses and has taken several steps to boost domestic supply and curb rising rates, but rued that states are not taking enough measures.
Asking states to take "equal responsibility", the minister said the state governments should lift pulses from the central buffer stock for retail distribution at a rate not exceeding Rs 120 per kg.
"It has been conveyed to the finance minister that this year dal production would be 20 million tonnes (mt). This will help bring down the market prices," Paswan told reporters here when asked about the likely output in 2016-17 crop year (July-June).
Pulses output declined to 17.15 mt in the 2014-15 crop year, from 19 mt in the previous year, due to drought. In 2015-16, pulses output further dipped to 17.06 mt on poor monsoon. Annual domestic demand is pegged at 23.5 million tonnes.
"Government is very serious about controlling prices of pulses. We are taking all possible measures to boost supply and check price rise. Prices of pulses have gone up whenever there has been a gap in supply and demand. The gap could be due to many reasons like fall in output or hoarding," Paswan said.
The Centre is creating a buffer stock to make intervention in the market and sell pulses at reasonable rates, he said.
Highlighting other steps, he said tur (arhar) dal will be imported on a government-to-government basis from Mozambique on a long-term basis. Imports will happen at minimum support price plus transportation cost.
"Since the production is lower in Mozambique, we will import about 1 lakh tonnes in the first year and 1.23 lakh tonnes in the second year, taking the total to 2 lakh tonnes in the next five years," Paswan said.
The government is in talks with Myanmar for urad imports, but they have not yet agreed to government-to-government imports.
"We are talking to all African nations for pulse imports.
Even other pulse-growing nations are also being contacted," Paswan said, adding that government is committed to controlling unnecessary increase in prices of pulses."
In retail markets, rates of chana, tur, urad, moong and masoor are ruling as high as Rs 110, Rs 162, Rs 198, Rs 130 and Rs 107 per kg, respectively, according to government data.