New Delhi: India is exploring the possibility of importing pulses from Afghanistan to boost domestic supply and control retail prices that have soared up to Rs. 200 per kg.
India recently signed an MoU with Mozambique to double import of tur and other pulses from the African nation to 2 lakh tonnes per annum in next five years. “India is also looking at Afghanistan as a possible supplier for pulses. We are exploring the possibility of importing pulses from Afghanistan,” External Affairs Ministry Secretary (Economic Relations) Amar Sinha told reporters on the sidelines of ‘Made in Afghanistan’ conference.
“Farmers from Afghanistan will grow pulses if they have an assured market, while importing pulses will ensure our food security,” Sinha said, adding the imports could start with small quantity of about 1 lakh tonnes.
When asked about India’s interest in contract farming for pulses, Afghanistan’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock Abdul Qadeer Jawad said that the country has the potential to grow pulses. “We grow kidney beans. We do not have big domestic market for pulses. But we have the potential to cultivate pulses,” Jawad said.
The bilateral trade between the two countries stood at USD 684 million in 2014-15, he added. India is facing a shortage of 6-7 million tonnes of pulses to meet its domestic demand.
Pulses production fell to 17.06 million tonnes in the 2015-16 crop year (July-June) from 17.15 million tonnes in the previous year. In 2013-14, output was over 19 million tonnes. The country imported nearly 6 million tonnes of pulses last fiscal, largely through private traders.
The government recently decided to enhance the buffer stock limit of pulses to 2 million tonnes for making market intervention when prices firm up in retail markets. It is also importing pulses to boost domestic supply.
Earlier this month, the Cabinet approved a long-term contract by signing an MoU with Mozambique for import of pulses either through the private channels or government-to -government (G2G) sales through state agencies nominated by the two countries. The MoU aims to promote production of tur and other pulses in Mozambique by encouraging progressive increase in the trading of these pulses.