New Delhi: Stating that pulses supply remain a "challenge", Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Thursday said the government is in import mode and has procured over 15,000 tonnes of pulses so far from farmers to create a buffer stock.
Last month, CCEA had approved creation of 1.5 lakh tonnes of buffer stock this year as retail prices are still ruling high at around Rs 180 per kg in most places.
"The pulses issue is a challenge for us. There has been a gap in supply and demand. The demand is growing every year while the production is not increasing," Paswan told reporters while sharing achievements of his ministry in the past 19 months.
State-owned PSUs have imported 5,000 tonnes of tur dal and have floated tenders for an additional 10,000 tonnes, he said. Private trade has imported 4.4 million tonnes (mt) of pulses so far this fiscal.
On buffer stock of pulses, Paswan said, "We have procured over 15,000 tonnes of dals directly from farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka."
The procurement in kharif and rabi 2015-16 will be done at market price above the minimum support price (MSP) out of the Price Stabilisation Fund.
The Food Corporation of India (FCI), co-operative Nafed and Small Farmers Agri-business Consortium (SFAC) have been assigned for the procurement.
The need for creating the buffer stock arose as retail prices have gone through the roof due to a fall in domestic output by 2 mt to 17.2 mt in 2014-15 crop year (July-June).
Pulses production in 2015-16 crop year (July-June) is also expected to fall or remain flat due to a deficit monsoon.
The government is gearing up for timely imports to boost domestic supply and keep prices under control.
India is the world's largest producer of pulses, but its domestic demand outstrips production. The shortfall is met through imports.