New Delhi: Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan today said his ministry is in favour of increasing import duty on tur dal from 10 per cent to 25 per cent in the interest of farmers.
Paswan's comments follow a meeting with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devender Fadnavis who sought hike in customs duty on tur dal saying farmers are struggling to get even the minimum support price (MSP) because of record output.
The Centre had last month imposed import duty of 10 per cent on tur dal do protect domestic growers. "Maharashtra CM has demanded increase in tur dal import duty to 25 per cent. I agree that there should be higher duty on tur dal. We will discuss and recommend it to the Finance Ministry," Paswan told reporters after the meeting.
The Food Ministry too had proposed 25 per cent import duty on tur dal but only 10 per cent was imposed, he said. Higher import duty is necessary to curb sale of cheaper imported dals as domestic produce at the minimum support price (MSP) to the government agencies, he added.
Paswan said government agencies are procuring pulses for buffer stock. It is buying at MSP and the deadline for procurement of summer (kharif) sown pulses was till April 22.
In the meeting, the Maharashtra Chief Minister demanded further extension of pulses procurement which was denied by the Centre saying that farmers are no more getting their Kharif produce and it was only traders and importers.
"We have informed that it is not possible to extend the time for procurement. Now, farmers are not getting their produce to mandis, it is only traders who are importing at a
cheaper rate and selling to us at the MSP," Paswan said. Paswan, however, assured that the central government will see if the quantity that has already arrived till April 22 could be procured or not.
The government agencies like NAFED and FCI have procured highest quantity of 3.5 lakh tonnes of tur dal from Maharasthra this year. The state wants 50,000 to 1,00,000 tonnes more to be procured by these agencies.
The Maharashtra government also requested the centre to come out with long term strategy to address the supply-demand gap in pulses and this was accepted by the Food Ministry.
The country's tur dal production is estimated to be 4.23 million tonnes in the 2016-17 crop year (July-June) as against 2.56 million tonnes in the year-ago period. Tur dal is grown in summer (kharif) season. Wholesale rate of tur dal has come under pressure due to higher output and in some places farmers are not getting even the MSP....