The deficient monsoon may result into low production of pulses in the Rabi crops. To put a check on the rising prices and mitigate the domestic demand, India may need to import 10 millions of pulses, putting a big challenges in front of the government. A recently released Assocham study says.
“Considering deficit in rainfall for 2015-16, it is expected that the production of pulses for the year would decrease slightly to 17 million tonnes as against 17.2 million tonnes recorded in 2014-15. Further, with the rise in demand it is expected that a total of 10.1 million tonnes of pulses might have to be imported,” the study alarms.
On the occasion of releasing the study, DS Rawat, Secretary General, Assocham says, “But given the global supply constraints, the demand-supply gap may be difficult to achieve this year. “While we are coping with the difficult situation this year, we cannot afford to continue with it since shooting prices of essential food items create adverse eco-system and negative discourse. Besides, it adds to food prices which cannot be allowed again to creep into the main inflation.”
Maharashtra is the largest Kharif pulses producer in the country followed by Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The respective shares of these major states in total kharif pulse production are 24.9, 13.5, 13.2, 10.0 and 8.4 percent respectively. These five States together account for about 70.0 percent of the country’s total Kharif pulse production. All these states have witnessed deficient rainfall during the monsoon 2015-16. It may affect the production, the study says.
The issue of meeting the domestic demand for pulses goes beyond facing the challenge of footing increased import bill. The efficient distribution of available pulses across regions is going to be the biggest challenge for the policymakers. Therefore, it would remain a challenge for the Central and state governments to ensure significant improvement in the pricing situation. The inefficient supply systems coupled with inherent weaknesses in regional markets in India are expected to further contribute to problem.
Besides, from the long-term perspective, excessive imports would affect India’s efforts towards achieving self sufficiency, ensuring rural livelihood and ensuring country’s nutritional security. And thus, the Government must prepare an implementable action plan to incentivise farmers to cultivate more pulses by providing seeds and technical support.
The minimum support price of various pulses, fixed by the Ministry of Agriculture is roaming around Rs 4500 per quintal to Rs 5000 per quintal. Whereas, the recent imports of pulses was done at Rs 7000 per quital. Rather than, creating such a big disparity in prices between domestic procurement and imports, the government can encourage the Indian farmers by providing good incentives. Need not to say, the Indian agro climatic conditions have big potential to increase the pulse production to mitigate the domestic demand.
The major pulse crops grown in India are Gram and Tur. Gram, with a production of more than 7 million tonnes, contributes more than 41 percent in the total pulse production of the country. Tur, with a production of 2.7 million tonnes and a contribution of about 16 percent, is the second major pulse crop. Other leading pulse crops in India are Urad and Moong.