New Delhi: Consumers are likely to end up paying Rs 100 per kg for Kabuli chana (chickpea) as the festive season rolls in, because chana dal prices across varieties are set to go up.
Already, the price of chana dal (split chickpea), one of the most-consumed pulses in India, has increased from Rs 4,000-4,500 per quintal in June to Rs 6,500 per quintal in September in the open market. And with the gradual unlocking of the hotels, restaurants and catering (HORECA) sector and the upcoming festive season in October-November, the demand is likely to increase further, which could push the prices to Rs 8,000 per quintal.
The festive season demand for chana dal and its processed variants, which begins to increase from August, is also inflating the prices. And what’s more, there is apprehension over the condition of pulses grown in the kharif season due to incessant rains in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, which have flooded major pulse-producing areas.
The production of Kabuli chana has declined to 2.73 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) this year from 3.95 LMT in 2019, which is likely to push its price beyond Rs 100 per kg.
Another factor behind the price rise, as reported by ThePrint, is the massive chana procurement by the government nodal agency, National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED), in the rabi season, which has squeezed the supply. NAFED has procured three times as much chana dal as it did last year, in order to provide a free kilogram of pulses to each ration card-holding family under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY), which will run until November.
S.K. Singh, additional managing director of NAFED, told ThePrint: “NAFED is currently selling chana in the open market in the range of Rs 4,350-4,500 per quintal compared to Rs 3,800-4,000 per quintal about three months back. Our total stock is close to 35.5 LMT, of which 15 LMT will get distributed under the PMGKY programme, about 30 per cent will go towards institutional supplies, and the balance will go into the open market.”
Rahul Chauhan, agro commodity expert at market research firm Igrain India, explained to ThePrint why the prices are likely to balloon.
“Due to the weak production and supply of indigenous (chick) peas, there is an increase in demand and consumption of chana dal. During the festive season, the demand for gram flour will increase, so the millers will try to buy more quantities of chana dal, which will further increase the prices,” Chauhan said.
“With the opening up of economic and social activities across the country, the prices of Kabuli chana have started rising by about 10-20 per cent from last month. This is likely to further increase with Kabuli chana passing Rs100/kg, as the demand by street vendors and other festivities increases.”
Overall, India is a pulse-deficient country, with the overall domestic production falling short of consumption. This is why an increase in pulses and processed food consumption across the country, along with exponential procurement by the government, has increased the prices of chana dal.
Dr N.P. Singh, director of the Indian Institute of Pulses Research, also addressed the changed scenario in a webinar organised by the India Pulses and Grains Association.
“We believe that the demand for pulses is going to increase in the coming time. The current requirement is around 280 LMT, whereas the production is 240 LMT and despite a buffer stock of 20 LMT, we feel that there will be a shortfall between 25 LMT to 50 LMT next year,” he said.