India Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA), the nodal body for India’s pulses trade and industry, along with India Myanmar Chamber of Commerce co-hosted a webinar on Tur, Urad and Moong scenario in India and Myanmar, under the patronage of ‘The IPGA knowledge series’.

India Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA), recently signed an MoU with the India Myanmar Chamber of Commerce (IMCC), to work towards to set up a framework for cooperation focussed at contributing to sustainable socio-economic development through intensified competitiveness and trade, enhanced business environment, and to be used as a cornerstone for the formulation and application of technical co-operation projects, particularly in the pulses category. The Webinar was the first such initiative under the ideologies of the MoU.

The chief guest at IPGA webinar was Nidhi Khare, additional secretary – department of consumer affairs, ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution, Government of India. And the special speaker was Sourabh Kumar, ambassador of India to Myanmar. B Krishna Murthy, managing director – Four P International, Chennai spoke on and Punit Bachhawat, chief financial officer and head of operations, prakash agro industries, Ahmedabad presented the Indian overview on Tur and Moong.

The Myanmar overview on Tur was talked about by Vatsal Lilani, managing director, overtop commodities, Myanmar while Desh Ratna, treasurer and executive committee member IMCC represented Urad and Moong.

The panelists at IPGA webinar conversed about key facets including the effect of change in India’s import policies, influence of Covid, impact of Myanmar’s political unrest as well as production, demand – supply gap, available stock for export, expected exports to India, expected import quantities, etc. during the course of the webinar.

Nidhi Khare stated- “India has recently signed a MoU signed with Myanmar for imports of Tur and Urad which we believe will bring a lot of stability in both the countries. When we saw that the availability of pulses is a challenge and that several other including African countries are ready to supply these pulses, we made a very bold decision of entering into a stable relationship of over five years so that the farmers in those countries also are assured to an extent that they will have a stable market in India, and it will also provide pulses at moderate price too. The government also made it easy for the importers to bring in the agri-commodities without any restrictions when the prices rose during the pandemic.”

“The department has a very important role to play, when it comes to making the pulses available to the consumers at a reasonable and fair price. We have been also monitoring the price behaviour from time to time over the past several years and it is in moderation. Now, we have a much institutionalized mechanism to watch for the prices of consumers and also understand the behaviour of these prices. The rising trend in the prices has actually made us aware about the gap in the demand and supply of various pulses. The department has actually strengthened the daily price monitoring system, which has given us a very accurate feedback on the retail price. When the prices of pulses continued to rise even after harvest, the government took several steps including declaration of stocks,” Nidhi further said.

Saurabh Kumar at IPGA webinar asserted- “Pulses are very important as far as the India – Myanmar relations are concerned. All the stakeholders have pointed out the criticality of pulses in our bilateral trade. Myanmar farmers are dependent upon exports of pulses and whenever there is a shortfall in India’s domestic production, India imports from Myanmar. I am given to understand that if India does not import, the production patterns in Myanmar shift or get diverted to other crops. We are looking at see what more can be done to have a stronger relationship as far as pulses are concerned and providing a certain amount of predictability.”

Punit Bachhawat informed- “India’s domestic production of Tur and Moong has fallen short of estimated numbers primarily due to weather incidences like unseasonal rains. Due to this, Government has allowed pulses imports under OGL till October 31, and we expect a good quantity of imports of these pulses. However, we have seen frequent changes in in the import and export policy with regards to pulses, and therefore to increase more volumes and further strengthening of relations, long term policy needs to be worked out with consensus of all, then both sides farmers and cultivators will have a clear cut view about future of their products.”

Vatsal Lilani mentioned- “The signing of an MoU for import of one lakh tons of Tur is an excellent step from the trades perspective. We would like to request Indian Government to consider increasing the MoU quantity which will provide insurance against weather vagaries and the Myanmar farmer will be incentivised to grow more and help bring many of Central Burma farmers back to growing this additional quantity which is just a fraction of India’s consumption. There is a strong possibility of Myanmar farmers switching to other crops unless they see a pattern of consistent demand.”

B Krishna Murthy averred- “Urad is grown in only two countries in the world, India and Myanmar. In India, we have been meeting our domestic needs by steadily improving domestic crop size, when importing the shortfall only from Myanmar. Our dependence on Myanmar in recent years is steadily going down.”

Krishna Murthy declared- “For the year 2020-21 with an estimated of production coming to 23.8 lakh tons, and add to this 4 lakh tons of import from Myanmar, the total availability would be around 27 to 28 lakh tons, which under normal circumstances would have fallen short of the annual demand. Due to Covid, nearly 23 crore people have been pushed below the poverty line resulting in lower consumption levels and hence demand has dropped for many pulses.”

“The pulses production in Myanmar has been gradually reducing primarily as a result of the policies of Indian Government which have affected farmer confidence. They are slowly shifting to crops like yellow maize, sesame, soyabean. As far as crop availability for 2021 is concerned, for Urad, we had a carry forward stock of 20,000 tons and we expect to be able to export around 550,000 tons out of which we have already exported 250,000 tons and expect another 250,000 tons to be exported by this year end. In the case of Moong, over a period of time with the India’s self-sufficiency improving, the volumes being traded from Myanmar to India have gone down drastically,” said Desh Ratna.

“We would like to invite Indian organizations to come and invest in Myanmar’s quality seed production program or farm mechanization programme, which will help basically the farmers to have a better yield of their crops. Investing in post-harvest crop management can also be explored and Government of Myanmar would be happy to invite you and work jointly with you to study and execute these opportunities. Myanmar also needs support in terms of modernization of the storage and processing facilities within this sector,” Ratna added.

“Another opportunity is to explore the possibility of producing Red Lentils in Myanmar. India imports around 4.50 to 5 lakh tons of Red Lentils from Canada which can instead be grown in Myanmar and exported to India. We welcome you to jointly study and explore this and are happy to invite anybody who would like to participate in this programme,” Ratna further stated.

The IPGA knowledge series comprises of webinars hosted with esteemed domain experts from Government, market, and industry to ponder over and explore topics of critical interest to the pulses sector in India and the world extensively.

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