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Dal Roti Out Of Stock, Besharam Sarkar

Posted by egovindia on August 6, 2006

Dal Roti Out Of Stock, Besharam Sarkar



It’s a national shame that we are importing Dal since 1981 and have yet thought of addressing this problem. India is importing 4-5 MT of vegetable Oil annually for about 15 years.


But even more worrying is that even stocks have exhausted and we may be importing over 3 MT of wheat at nearly double the price paid to farmers. Rice stocks too are inadequate.

But besharam sarkar is too busy doling out concessions to Ambanis and thugs.  


Government has no pride and caliber to run the country.


70% people engaged in agriculture couldn’t produce enough food for our own consumption. Per capita consumption in India is far below world average.


We export very high percentage of Seafood, banned “Beef Consumption” when we have largest cattle population in the world. So India’s protein in take is the lowest in the world.


Moong, Tur and Urad cost Rs.60/- plus per kg.


Belonging to commission agent’s family, Manmohan is delighted, more shortage means more loot.


I can assure people of India, Punjab can meet entire shortfall in Pulses production. But need an assurance that Government Of India may give procurement guarantee of Rs. 40/- per kg.


It is the commission agents in league with GOI that are responsible for all “Hunger & Poverty” in India.


Ravinder Singh


Oh Dear Lentil

An image makeover for our very own dal. It’s imported.



Dal-chawal, varan-bhath, sambar-sadam, bisi bele huli anna, dal-bhat. Call it by any name you want, but a ladleful of golden smoking dal over a plate of cooked rice remains every Indian’s comfort food even in an era of Mcburgers and pizzas.


An editor-columnist once devoted nearly 1,000 words explaining how not a single Indian restaurant could make dal the way it was made at home. But unfortunately, despite being the world’s largest producer (with a 25 per cent share) and single-nation consumer of pulses, India has allowed the humble lentil to go out of reach of the common man. Even at the local grocer, prices of yellow moong, urad or tur have crossed Rs 60 a kg, from around Rs 40 a year ago, yet nobody’s bothered.


In fact, slowly, yet steadily, despite the rbi’s declared efforts to keep inflation under control, the average man’s food basket has become costlier in the past 12 months, and the main culprits have been pulses and wheat. On the wholesale price index (WPI measures point-to-point inflation), the cereals’ index went up from 180 at the beginning of April 2005 to 192 in February 2006, before dipping down as the government decided to import wheat to beat down the prices.


But traders are free to import pulses, which has been on the open import list since 1981. Strangely, the reason why it was put on OGL (open general list) with a small import duty in 1981—when it was the only food item afforded such open access to the Indian market—was the importance of pulses in the Indian diet. It was, and still is the only cheap and easily available source of protein for poor people.

Then what explains the over 38 per cent rise in its index from 169.6 on April 9, ’05, to 234.4 now?

There are many reasons, not the least of which is government apathy. The output of pulses has stagnated at 12-13 million tonnes for many years, with no clear long-term trend against a total demand of over 17 million tonnes, but imports have rarely gone beyond 2 million tonnes. Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, between themselves, grow close to half of the total output. In 2004-05, output did fall short of target by 2 million tonnes, requiring imports worth Rs 2,261 crore. In 2005-06, the second advance estimate of the crop production by the ministry of agriculture puts it at 14.4 million tonnes, higher by 8 million tonnes. Why then the price spiral?


One reason is that several experts doubt the government production figures. Agriwatch, a leading Delhi-based independent commodity research company, explains that “production of kharif pulses in agricultural year 2005-06 has declined substantially due to adverse weather situations during critical crop stages. Moong crop was largely affected in Rajasthan while urad was affected due to weather turbulence in Andhra, Maharashtra and Karnataka.” According to Ramesh Chand, acting director, National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research (NCAP), Pusa, the main reason for the runaway price rise is the steady decline in its per head availability, to less than 10 kg a year now. Average yield per hectare is below 600 kg, compared to the global standard of 852 kg.


Several other factors have combined to make pulses a rich man’s food. Pulses are a dryland crop and hardly benefited from the Green Revolution. Whereas wheat yields went up by 3.5 times, pulses went up only by 50 per cent or so. In many areas like Punjab, the excess reliance of state policy on rice and wheat was achieved at the cost of neglecting coarse grains and pulses. Of late, the crop has also been plagued by pest problems.

The demand-supply mismatch was never met by imports which were always small and now even costly, since global prices have also firmed up. This year, the price volatility has discouraged importers.


Weather troubles in exporting nations in Africa and Australia affected supply. Australia, which grows chickpea mainly for export to India, managed to produce 1 lakh tonnes but sent only one cargo of 22,000 tonnes. The poultry industry was hit by bird flu, leading to a shortage of chicken in the market and a rise in meat prices. So, as a substitution effect, the demand for pulses went up further in the last few months and was probably the last straw on the back of consumers. Reports of a short crop have already encouraged hoarding by commodity traders. Big grain companies were also believed to be involved in stocking activities. Says Gaurav Vats, research head with Agriwatch: “The market trend in pulses has been very bullish for some time now and is likely to stay that way.”

In such an event, futures trading can actually add to the feeling of scarcity, says Ramesh Chand. Liquidity is high in the futures market, which attracts a new class of investors who have not much acquaintance with the fundamentals, feels Agriwatch. Excess focus on short supply only pushed prices to more unrealistic levels in pulses, which translated into higher retail prices.

A similar situation may be developing in wheat. The latest production estimate of 73 million tonnes is high but not enough because carryover stocks are at an all-time low. Coupled with low procurement, this can lead to a supply crunch of 4-5 million tonnes for the PDS. In recent years, farmers have also been reluctant to sell to government agencies because of better prices offered by private sector buyers. The government has already imported 0.5 million tonnes from Australia and overall wheat imports may touch 3.5 million tonnes this year to meet the seasonal shortfall, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar says. Even private-sector millers and wheat product- makers may be allowed to import under OGL at reduced import duty, he adds. With the monsoon forecast to be “normal” (or 93 per cent of the long-period average) this year too, the coming year might see the government firefighting on all fronts to control inflation.


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