The Agriculture Ministry has proposed an imposition of a 10 percent duty on gram (chana) to restrict cheaper imports and protect farmers from sliding prices of the commodity.
The proposal comes in the backdrop of chana prices ruling below the minimum support price of Rs 3,100 per quintal in some parts of the country. At present, pulses are imported at zero duty across the board for any category. Similarly, export of pulses is prohibited except chickpea (Kabuli Chana) and organic pulses.
The government plans to restrict inward shipment of chana even as the country is dependent on imports to meet its domestic requirement of pulses. The country generally imports 3-4 million tonnes different varieties of pulses annually. In 2013-14 crop year, production of chana -- a rabi crop -- stood at 9.88 million tonnes, up from 8.83 million tonnes in the previous year.
In the ongoing rabi season, chana sowing is under way and so far the coverage is lower at 7.78 million hectare, as compared with 9.06 million hectares. India imports chickpeas and dried peas from Australia and Tanzania. Domestic production of chana is mostly concentrated in central and southern parts of India.