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Govt needs to change duty structure and help lentils imports, webinar told
Friday, 21 May, 2021, 13 : 00 PM [IST]
Our Bureau, Mumbai
India Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA), the nodal body for India’s pulses trade and industry, successfully co-hosted a webinar on chickpeas and lentils along with Pulse Australia and Austrade under the aegis of ‘The IPGA Knowledge Series’. IPGA, which, is India’s leading think tank and knowledge hub of the pulses sector organised this webinar as a part of the Australian Government’s Australia India Business Exchange (AIBX) programme.

The Indian overview on lentils was presented by Anurag Tulshan, MD, Esarco Exim and IPGA – East Zone Convenor, and Australian overview by Nick Poutney, director – Pulse Australia. The overview on Indian chickpeas was presented by Nirav Desai, managing partner – GGN Research and Australian overview by Peter Wilson, MD – Wilson International Trade. The webinar was attended by about 600 participants from across the world with majority being from India and Australia.

Saurabh Bhartia, senior trader, Viterra India, IPGA and GPC executive committee member, set the tone for the webinar in his opening remarks saying, “The share of Australian lentils in India’s import has been 10-15 per cent over the last seven-eight years and almost 80-90 per cent of its chickpeas’ requirements came from Australia till December 2017. However, the 66 per cent import duty imposed by Government of India has made it difficult to import from Australia resulting in these imports dropping to almost zero. In 2021, all pulses in India are trading above minimum support price and government stocks have hit a low. Both show we definitely have issues in our production of pulses in the last Kharif and Rabi seasons.”

Tulshan, giving an overview of India’s lentils scenario, said, “The current supply and demand situation is tight. The government needs to come forward and make some changes with regard to the duty structure, so as to get in more cargo because going forward, from the month of July until December 2021, we are going to need to import at least 500,000 tonne of lentils.”

He, in his presentation, highlighted the following key points:
•    This year, Indian Government estimates around 1.35 million tonne of lentils production, but as per trade estimates, that should not be more than 900,000 to a million tonne. The crop size has been lower this year and current prices are witness to it.
•    The total consumption of lentils in our country is approximately 1.80 to 2 million tonne a year, which translates to roughly 150,000-170,000 tonne every month. So, we are definitely dependent on imports of lentils.
•    India currently has an inventory of approx. 350,000 - 400,000 tonne of red lentils which includes around 200,000 tonne of imported red lentils while we have approximately 150,000-200,000 tonne of Indian desi red lentils. This should last for two and a half months after which we need to import more.
•    Major chunk of Australia’s last year’s production of around 700,000 tonne has already been exported and not much is left. However, Australian supply of lentils is definitely anticipated to be lower compared to last year.

Nick Poutney, director – Pulse Australia, presenting an overview on Australian lentils scenario, stated that while the Indian Government may be over-estimating their lentils production, the Australian government may be underestimating the Australian lentils production.
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