India looks at growing pulses in Tanzania to tackle dal shortage

The Indian Government is exploring the feasibility of contract farming of pulses in African countries -- Mozambique, Tanzania and Malawi -- as it looks for a long-term solution to domestic shortage and high prices.

A delegation may visit Mozambique to examine the possibility of growing pulses through contract farming, a senior government official said on Saturday.

"For long-term solutions of the pulses crisis, we are exploring the option of working with Mozambique, Tanzania and Malawi. These countries grow tur and arhar similar to our domestic varieties. So, we are exploring this option," the official said.

Stating that farming is unorganised in these countries and done at a very small scale, he said the government will explore the option to take land for contract farming with the involvement of private players. The other option could be offtake agreement with these countries.

The official, however, acknowledged absence of sufficient infrastructure in these countries to raise output and facilitate imports, in which case India may have to offer help.

"No decision has been taken so far. It is only at a discussion stage. These countries have no company or trading organisation for exports or to do contract farming," the official said.

A delegation might visit Mozambique soon to explore these possibilities as well, he said.

Production of pulses is estimated to have declined to 17.06 million tonnes in 2015-16 crop year (July-June) due to drought while domestic demand is around 23-24 million tonnes.

The country imported about 5.5 million tonnes last fiscal, largely through private trade, but it was not enough to cool the skyrocketing prices, which have gone up to Rs. 200 per kg in the retail market.