The reasons cited are a fall in output due to hailstorms in March this year leading to damage of standing Rabi crops and then a deficient monsoon affecting the Kharif crop. Also, unlike commodities like edible oils, sugar, wheat or corn, import options are limited in pulses as not much production happens outside. The total global pulses output is about 70 million tonnes (mt), of which the estimated cross-border trade is hardly 15 mt—less than India’s annual production of 18-19 mt. Most of the pulses in India are grown in rain-fed areas like Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh—subject to changes in the weather.
The government has taken measures to curb prices. It decided to import 7,000 tonnes of pulses earlier this month and a further 3,000 tonnes on Monday, imposed stock limits for traders and even departmental stores, and last week said it would create a buffer stock of 40,000 tonnes. But prices of the two pulses haven’t come down yet.