India scrapped curbs on exports of pulses to help farmers in the world’s top producer to access overseas markets and get better prices amid record harvests.
A ministerial council headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi also empowered a panel comprising top officials to review the country’s trade policy on pulses. Measures such as quantitative restrictions, prior registrations and import duties changes depending on the domestic output will be considered, according to a government statement on Thursday.
A bumper harvest of lentils, chickpeas, black gram and pigeon peas, staples for most of India’s 1.3 billion people, has prompted the government to allow exports despite a rise in domestic demand. Production surged 40 percent from a year earlier to an all-time high of 22.95 million tons in 2016-17 after higher state-set purchase prices encouraged farmers to increase the crop area, according to the farm ministry.
“Opening of export of all types of pulses will help the farmer dispose off their products at remunerative prices and encourage them to expand area of sowing,” according to the statement.
Prices of pulses in India have fallen in eight of the past 10 months this year, according to government data compiled by Bloomberg.
The wholesale price index of pulses has fallen 32 percent from its level in November 2016 when it climbed to the highest since the start of a new series in April 2011, according to the commerce ministry.
“An open trade policy will go a long way in not only finding new markets, but also creating efficiency in the entire value chain making it more competitive, agile and responsive to international trends,” according to Pravin Dongre, chairman of the India Pulses and Grains Association. “We believe this step will improve the returns to farmers and potentially open up greater investments in the sector.”
India had allowed exports of some pulses in September, according to the commerce ministry. The legumes are often cooked with curry spices, sauces or butter and eaten at most meals with rice and Indian flat bread.