New Delhi, Mar 11: India has imported 5.31 million tonnes of pulses till February 11 of the current financial year as against 4.58 million tonnes in the entire 2014-15 fiscal, Parliament was informed today.
"There is a demand-supply gap of 3-4 million tonnes per annum in availability of pulses, which is met mainly through imports by private agencies," Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha.
"During 2015-16 (as on February 11, 2016), a total of 5.31 million tonnes of pulses has been imported i.e 0.73 million tonnes higher than 4.58 million tonnes imported during 2014-15," he added.
The minister said the recent rise in the prices of pulses was mainly on account of the lower domestic production due to adverse weather conditions.
"In addition, artificial shortage created by hoarding and black marketing also put pressure on prices of pulses," Paswan said. He informed the government has taken a decision to create a buffer stock of 1.5 lakh tonnes of pulses for effective market intervention in future.
As per Agriculture Ministry's second estimate, pulses production is estimated at 17.33 million tonnes in 2015-16 crop year (July-June), marginally higher than the previous year's production of 17.15 million tonnes.
India is the world's largest producer of pulses, but domestic demand outstrips production and the shortfall is met from imports.