India has imported over 7 lakh tonnes of pulses during April-May of this fiscal to meet domestic demand.

Minister for Food Ram Vilas PaswanFood Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said in Lok Sabha that the country has imported 7,05,477 tonnes of pulses in the first two months of 2016-17 fiscal. India had imported 57.97 lakh tonnes of pulses during the entire 2015-16 fiscal, the data showed.

Paswan said: “The production of pulses varies in the range of 17-19.5 million tonnes while demand for 2016-17 is estimated at 24.61 million tonnes.”

The deficit in domestic supply is met through imports primarily under private trade, he added. “However, in the ensuing year, the government will also import pulses, the quantum of which will depend upon the availability and prices of pulses both domestic and global,” the minister said.

Paswan said the rise in prices of pulses is mainly on account of shortfall in domestic production due to adverse weather conditions and increase in demand. “In addition, speculation, cartelisation, black-marketing/ hoarding also put pressure on prices,” he said. Paswan said the government has set up a group of officers involving various enforcement agencies for regular monitoring and exchange of information on hoarding, cartelisation.

“The regular monitoring and co-ordinated action of the government would help moderate the prices through disincentivising activities such as hoarding/blackmarketing,” he added.

Pulses prices have soared up to Rs 200 per kg in the retail markets due to drop in production on two consecutive years of drought.