NEW DELHI: India a mass producer of dal variants has been rattled by “dal shock”. A critical shortage of pulses including peas and lentils. The country’s majority looks to these food items as a key source of protein, has led to a surge in prices.
In India, the retail prices for dal variants are much higher than that of chicken or eggs, according to one of the economic advisers to the Indian Merchant Chamber.
The lack of rainfall in this recent Indian monsoon season can be attributed to the El Niño weather phenomenon, contributed to a poor crop growth in main growing areas with only a 40% rainfall.
Government is exploring the feasibility of contract farming of pulses in African countries — Mozambique, Tanzania and Malawi — as it looks for a long-term solution to domestic shortage and high prices. A delegation may visit Mozambique to examine the possibility of growing pulses through contract farming, a senior government official said on Saturday.
“For long-term solutions of the pulses crisis, we are exploring the option of working with Mozambique, Tanzania and Malawi. These countries grow dal variants similar to India’s domestic varieties. So, we are exploring this option,” the official said.
The 3 African countries Mozambique, Tanzania & Malawi’s agricultural planning is at current unable to sustain the demands that India is in need of. Indian state officials are set to look at securing land from these countries and with privately owned companies assistance start contract farming. The other option could be offtake agreement with these countries. The official, however, acknowledged absence of sufficient infrastructure in these countries to raise output and facilitate imports, in which case India may have to offer help.
“No decision has been taken so far. It is only at a discussion stage. These countries have no company or trading organisation for exports or to do contract farming,” the official said. A delegation might visit Mozambique soon to explore these possibilities as well, he said.
Production of pulses is estimated to have declined to 17.06 million tonnes in 2015-16 crop year (July-June) due to drought while domestic demand is around 23-24 million tonnes. The country imported about 5.5 million tonnes last fiscal, largely through private trade, but it was not enough to cool the skyrocketing prices, which have gone up to Rs. 200 per kg in the retail market.
The Narendra Modi government has initiated imports to the tune of 39,000 tonnes, of which only 14,000 tonnes have reached the country so far. Of the stock that has reached, only 7,000 tonnes have made it to the markets till last week.