Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 3:
A sudden and steep surge in prices of pulses in Odisha in the last four days has hit the common man hard with dal-the essential item in an Indian meal – doing the vanishing trick from the market.
Prices of all varieties of pulses have recorded a flat rise of Rs 10-12 a kilogram in the last four days.
While arhar dal’s price per kg has touched Rs 100, moong dal is selling at Rs 105 and the urad dal has crossed Rs 96 in the retail market. Even their poor cousin masoor dal has climbed to Rs 80 a kg while chana dal has crossed Rs 65.
The sudden spurt in prices of pulses despite supplies remaining intact has left the common man baffled.
Market sources said four days back, good quality arhar dal was selling between Rs 84 to a maximum of Rs 90 a kg in retail. Similarly, moong dal was selling within Rs 93 a kg and urad dal at Rs 75.
Traders have attributed the rise in retail prices to the rise in wholesale prices while informing that there has been no problem of supplies. In their opinion, the rise in prices of pulses has been due to rising prices of these items in the international market.
“India imports pulses from countries like Myanmar, Australia and New Zealand. In the current year, these countries have recorded a 15 percent fall in their pulses production. This being the situation, prices of pulses will remain high. Moreover, unseasonal rains during harvesting season have affected pulses production in a big way. Pulse crops have been badly damaged due to rains in Uttar Pradesh, which is the major supplier of pulses to our state. So this year, our country will have to depend to a great extent on imports from foreign countries for meeting our demand for pulses. More dependence on imports will automatically push prices upwards in the domestic market,” said Sudhakar Panda, general secretary of All Odisha Traders’ Association (FAOTA).
However, consumers are in no mood to buy the argument.
It may be noted here that the FAOTA had stopped import of pulses, wheat and wheat related products from April 9 this year demanding withdrawal of VAT on these products but had withdrawn its agitation bowing to pressure from the government. Though import of these products had stopped for nearly a week during that period, the prices of pulses had not gone up to this extent even then.
Some market watchers believe that prices of pulses have been hiked on the pretext of rise in international prices and suspect it to be the result of the honeymoon between few traders and sections of the government.