New Delhi: Centre has asked state governments to stock up pulses, especially tur and urad, from the central buffer system to avert price spikes in the coming months.
Retail prices of pulses are still ruling high at Rs 160-170 per kg in most places even as the rates have cooled down from the peak of Rs 210 per kg last year, following a slew of measures including crackdown on hoarders.
The Centre has created a buffer stock of 50,000 tonnes of tur and urad procured in the 2015 kharif season and is also in the process of buying rabi pulses.
"In the review meeting last week, state governments were told to be proactive and place their demand for pulses from central buffer stock at the earliest, and not to wait for price rise," a senior Consumer Affairs Ministry official said.
The states have been asked to be prepared to ensure adequate quantity of pulses is made available during lean and festival season, the official said.
The state have also been told to make necessary arrangement for milling and storage of pulses in their states. Pulses would be allotted to states on first-come-first serve-basis.
Beside states, central government enforcement agencies have been asked to be alert to curb any unfair trade practice in pulses, the official added.
Meanwhile, the government is importing pulses through state-run MMTC to boost domestic supply.
The government is using Price Stabilisation Fund for creating buffer stock and import of pulses and other essential commodities so that to intervene in the market to check prices.
Despite several steps, pulses prices are expected to remain firm this year as well because production is unlikely to increase significantly because of drought for the second straight year.
As per the Agriculture Ministry's second estimate, pulses production is estimated at 17.33 million tonnes in 2015-16 crop year (July-June), marginally higher than the previous year's production of 17.15 million tonnes.
India is the world's largest producer of pulses, but its domestic demand outstrips production. The shortfall is met from import.