“Compared to our annual consumption of 23 million tons of lentils, domestic production is approximately 16 million tons. Now that nearly six lakh tonnes of it has reached our ports, we are confident that we will not face any problem,” an official said. Sources also said the government is likely to continue zero duty on lentils after March 2024, to give a clear indication to overseas farmers.
Government data shows that India imported 4.85 lakh tonnes of lentils worth Rs 3,012 crore from Canada during 2022-23 and nearly one lakh tonnes of lentils were imported from Canada between April and June this year. Imports of lentils from Australia have increased to almost two lakh tonnes. India has also started importing masur dal from Russia. In August, a consignment of Russian lentils landed at the port of Chennai.
In September 2021, the government allowed the import of masur from Russia. However, due to phytosanitary concerns and the high cost of legumes, the kitchen food was not imported from Russia. India is also expanding the basket of countries from which lentil imports are possible to meet domestic demand.
Total domestic production of pulses has increased in recent years and campaigns have been launched to motivate people to consume alternative pulses such as chana (gram) dal. Lentil prices have increased marginally to Rs 93 per kg from Rs 92 per month.