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India Approves Lentil Imports from Russia for a Six-Month Period

Lentil prices in India are at all-time highs, with whole lentils costing Rs 80 per kg in wholesale and pulses costing more than Rs 100 per kg in retail.

Chintu Das

For the first time, the government has approved the import of lentils from Russia, reducing the country's reliance on Canada and Australia for the legume. 

The move has resulted in a 2.5 percent decrease in the value of imported lentils at a number of ports. Lentil prices in India are at all-time highs, with whole lentils costing Rs 80 per kg in wholesale and pulses costing more than Rs 100/kg in retail. 

Since February, the price of free, whole lentils in Madhya Pradesh, the country's top producer, has risen by 55 percent to Rs 8,050 a quintal. 

Canadian lentils were bought and sold at Rs 5,200 per quintal on the Mundra port in February. The equivalent is now trading at Rs 7,500 per quintal, a 46 percent increase. Masoor dal has reached a retail price of Rs 100 per kg.

Harsha Rai, Mayur Global's owner, stated, "We had never believed that the price of lentils might surpass the price of tur (pigeon pea)." 

Australia and Russia have embraced Canada as the world's leading producer of lentils. India, on the other hand, has never imported lentils from Russia due to phytosanitary concerns.

According to sources, the federal government has approved a one-time import of lentils from Russia for a six-month term, provided they meet the country's phytosanitary requirements. 

During a pest threat assessment for lentils imported from Russia, India discovered three pests. Two of these are weeds, and one is a nematode, all of which are not found in India. 

“We estimate roughly two lakh tonnes of lentils to be accessible in Russia,” Vivek Agarwal, director of JLV Agro, said. The transportation time is approximately 20 to 25 days.” 

The size of the lentil harvest in Canada is expected to be reduced by around 50% due to the dry climate, resulting in a 55 percent increase in prices on the origin within two months. 

However, while importing lentils from Russia, importers are likely to confront numerous problems. “First and foremost, since we have never imported lentils from Russia before. The quality of the harvest is unknown to us. Second, because we don't trade much with Russia, the supply of empty containers from Russia to India is unknown, and the prices aren't lower than in Canada or Australia, where we know what standards we're buying,” said Rai of Mayur Global. 

“We had sought the government to open import from a few additional countries apart from Canada and Australia to limit the rising prices,” said Pradip Jindal, president of the Pulses and Beans Importers Association. In addition, we are attempting to acquire lentils from Kazakhstan.” 

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