KARACHI: Importers have substantially slowed down placing pulse orders as global prices have surged by $100 to $600 per tonne over the past two months, pushing up the wholesale rates in the local market.

Karachi Wholesale Grocers Association (KWGA) chairman Rauf Ibrahim said importers were reluctant to open letters of credit in view of the rising global prices, rupee’s massive devaluation and skyrocketing freight charges.

The impact of rising wholesale prices was also visible in retail rates of pulses all over the country. According to the Sensitive Price Indicator for the week ending Dec 9, masoor, gram pulse and mash rates went up by 2.32-3.29 per cent over the preceding week.

Masoor was selling at Rs170-230 per kg, moong at Rs115-230, mash at Rs200-310 and gram pulse at Rs124-200 per kg.

Impact visible on wholesale and retail rates across the country

The KWGA chairman said mash pulse rate in the global market had soared to $1,060 per tonne from $800 over the last two months, followed by black gram (to $700 from $600), masoor (to $965 from $600), medium sized white gram (to $1,000 from $550) and large sized white gram (to $1,400 from $850).

He said moong imports had been negligible due to local crop which started from July. However, the price of locally produced moong also rose to Rs4,600 per 40kg from Rs3,500.

He said the wholesale price of mash had gone up to Rs250 per kg from Rs190 in the last two months, while black gram price is now tagged at Rs160 compared to Rs130 per kg. Masoor rate rose to Rs195 per kg from Rs140, whereas the prices of medium and big sized white gram surged to Rs160 and Rs260 from Rs110 and Rs180.

Pakistan consumes 800,000 tonnes of whole black gram every year which is later processed into gram pulse (dal chana). Consumption of moong, mash and masoor stands at Rs200,000 tonnes each annually, while the demand for arhar pulse hovers around 25,000 tonnes.

Mr Ibrahim said imports from various countries made up 80pc of the overall demand for pulses, which arrived in the whole form and were later processed in mills located in Sindh and Punjab. White gram is not processed and consumed directly.

After an upsurge, imports of pulses had been slowing down over the last few months, he said.

The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics data showed that 86,033 tonnes of pulses were imported in October against 109,962 tonnes in September. Mr Ibrahim claimed that imports in November plunged to 38,000 tonnes, while arrivals from Dec 1 to 11 stood at just 11,800 tonnes.

When asked why imports in July-October rose to 419,626 tonnes from 374,836 tonnes a year ago, he said this was because of previous orders as shipments had been taking at least three months to arrive due to logistics issues compared to 30 to 45 days a few months back.

He said there should be some mechanism as import permits should be issued to the traders as per the demand and supply situation of pulses in the country. Another option is that the government should get involved in importing pulses as per the country’s requirement or announce a subsidy on imports to control rates.

Published in Dawn, December 13th, 2021

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