With India prohibiting tur imports from Myanmar, farmers in neighboring nations are rapidly substituting tur crop cultivation with other commodity crops such as sesame, maize, and cotton, for which there is a ready market in China and other neighboring countries, as according to the experts.
Vatsal Lilani, the Managing Director of Evertop Commodities Pte Ltd., says that ‘from a total of 3lakh tonnes in 2015, Myanmar’s (formerly Burma) tur production has dropped to 80,000 tonnes this year. Farmers are migrating away from other crops since they are unsure about India’s requirements of volumes up to 2.50 Lakh tonnes, which was common previously.’
Lilani was among the trade professionals who took part in a webinar hosted by the Indian Pulses and Grains Association and the India Myanmar Chambers of Commerce to address the scenario of tur, urad, and moong in India and Myanmar.
He stated further that Myanmar only began farming tur 20 years ago and that it exports 80% of its tur to India year after year. However, because India’s tur production has been considerably greater since 2016, exports have been declining, resulting in massive carry-forward stocks. In contrast to the 2.4 lakh tonnes exported to India in 2015, the exports in 2020 were only 1.5 lakh tonnes, according to Lilani.
In June of this year, India reached an agreement with Myanmar to import 2.5lakh tonnes of urad and 1lakh tonnes of tur yearly through private trade for the following five years. Aside from Myanmar, India obtains pigeonpea from African countries.
The rainfall factor
‘The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) figure of 1 lakh tonnes is well-considered. But, from a trade standpoint, there is a strong belief that the figure should be substantially higher,’ Lilani said. According to him, India consumes approximately 4 million tonnes of tur per year, and 1 lakh tonnes is only 2.5% of total consumption.
However, its impact on the overall price situation can be enormous. Second, the production of pulses in India is heavily reliant on rains. Unseasonal rains during harvest times have contributed to the uncertainty. As a result, a larger MoU quantity would give protection against this, as Myanmar farmers would be incentivized to cultivate more tur, he explained.
‘Once the farmers migrate to a different crop, it will be quite difficult for them to reintroduce. Many people have already left the Sagaing region (which borders the Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Nagaland), which is responsible for much of the tur production. Farmers will not produce tur again unless there is a pattern of constant demand,’ he mentions.
So according to Desh Ratna, a globally recognized commodity dealer, India has consistently received 65 % of Myanmar’s pulses bean exports during the last five years. Tur, black gram, and green gram make up about 70% of the pulses produced in the neighboring countries.
Similarly to tur, 70 to 80 % of black gram produced in Myanmar is exported to India, according to Ratna, who added that soon after India liberalized pulse imports in May due to high domestic prices, nearly a lakh tonne of black gram was exported to India, the majority of which arrived at the Chennai port.