Pulses import to come down by half this year

New Delhi: The Government on Tuesday projected a 50 per cent drop this year in pulses import over last year due to prospects of a bumper production in 2010-11.

"Pulses are expected to be a bumper crop at 16.6 million tonnes this year in which case imports will be half of what they were last year," Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar told reporters here.

India`s total pulses` import in 2009-10 was 3.4 million tonnes.

Pulses are produced all through the year, with maximum output during the Kharif season beginning June.

The country has about 23 million hectares of land under pulses cultivation and average annual production is 14-15 million tonnes.

The shortage of about 2-3 million tonnes is met through imports.

However, the country is likely to achieve an "all time record" of 16.6 million tonnes of pulses this year. This is more than last year`s output of 14.57 million tonnes.

Khullar further said that arrangements for import of pulses were being made.

"…import contracts for pulses were being entered into and the same would be done by private traders," he said.

India is still far short of meeting the projected demand of nearly 25-30 million tonnes of pulses over the next decade.

Government has permitted import of pulses at zero duty to improve its domestic availability.

On edible oil, Khullar said its prices, which were on rise last year, are likely to remain stable in 2011.

"The good news on edible oil front is…it is available (in international markets), there is no shortage and there is no hardening of prices during 2011, which means you should not see further inflation (in edible oil)," he said.

Edible oil has a weightage of about three percentage points in the wholesale price index (WPI). India had imported 8.82 million tonnes in 2009-10.