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Why India-Canada tensions have masur daal traders worried

Daal millers and traders are keeping a close watch on the ongoing standoff in India-Canada ties, as its effects can be felt in the availability and prices of masur (red lentil). Canada is the largest source of red lentils for India with the annual import being pegged at around 4-5 lakh tonnes. While Australia can replace the Canadian market, prices of masur can see a rise if the supply chain is disturbed.

Masur at present is the second cheapest pulse after chana. On an average, masur daal is now retailing in various parts of the country between Rs 91-95/kg. Chana daal is cheapest at around Rs 75-80/kg. Mong and tur daal are on the higher side, retailing between Rs 110 and Rs 150 /kg respectively. Red lentil is the second most commonly grown rabi crop, with Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh reporting around 70 per cent of the domestic production. The annual consumption of masur is estimated to be around 18-20 lakh tonnes.

Why masur consumption has gone up

This year, India has imported around 11 lakh tonnes of masur already. Harsha Rai, vice president of Indore based Mayur Corporation — a leading dal miller and trader — said the increased consumption of masur is because of it being substituted for tur. “Masur has substituted tur given the higher price of the later,”she said.

Australia and Canada are the two major sources India meets its requirements from. For the financial year 2022-23, India imported 3.5 lakh tonnes of masur from Australia while 4.85 lakh tonnes was imported form Canada. For the 2023-24 financial year, the imports from Australia and Canada were 2.67 lakh tonnes and 1.90 lakh tonnes respectively.

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There are also concerns over the size of the masur crop in Canada. The 2023 crop now being harvested is pegged at around 15.4 lt, down from last year’s 23 lt. It has already led to landed prices of imported masur climbing to $760-770 per tonne, a jump of $100 in the last one month.

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Concerns for Canada too

The present chill in ties has come after the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged the Indian government’s involvement in the killing of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar, whom India had designated as a terrorist. India has rejected the claims.

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On Thursday, the Indian government suspended visa services for Canadian citizens. While no other retaliatory effects have been made, the daal industry said in case of increased import duty or any such similar effects, prices of masur daal could see a spike. Australia can meet the Indian demand but monopoly in any sense, traders said, is not desirable. “For Canada, India is the largest export market — so it is in their interest that this market is not harmed. We need to wait and watch,”said a Latur-based daal miller.

© The Indian Express (P) Ltd

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