New Delhi, July 28 : Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan on Thursday said the government is holding bilateral talks with Myanmar and African nations to counter a domestic shortfall of 7.6 million tonnes that has driven local prices of key pulses like chickpea to a record high.
In a series of tweets, Paswan said, "There is demand-supply gap of about 7.6 million tonnes in Pulses.
The challenge of demand-supply gap of about 7.6 million tonnes is being addressed via public and private imports and local procurement for buffer stock creation of 20 lac tonnes." "Bilateral talks are going on with Myanmar and other African nations for government-to-government import of pulses to boost domestic supply.
The price rise will be there till there is a problem of demand-supply gap," he added. The Union Minister further hoped for a good production this year with a substantial hike in the support price of pulses and forecast of good monsoon.
Paswan also urged the state governments to take measures to limit stock holdings and clamp down on hoarding to check the rise in prices "States can take action against hoarders and black-marketer's by imposing stock limits on traders.
We can only give direction to states to take action against hoarders. We cannot do it ourselves because action-taking power rests with the states," he said. The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in the first week of July approved a long-term contract by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (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 total pulses production in the country during 2015-16 is estimated to be 17 million tonnes while 5.79 million tonnes of pulses were imported to meet the domestic requirements.
However, the total availability of pulses including domestic production and imports were was less than domestic requirements putting pressure on the prices of pulses during the year 2015-16 and current year.
To mitigate the shortfall in availability of pulses and supplement the existing efforts at meeting the requirements, the government has decided to enter into long term G2G arrangement with Mozambique so as to ensure assured availability of pulses.
The signing of this MoU with Mozambique may also lead to similar arrangements with other countries..