Despite being a world leader in pulses production, India has been forced to import due to crop loss and seed deficit. The sharp rise in prices is only a symptom
DOWN TO EARTH
RANI DEVI, 47, is drying chickpea ( chanaa daal) in Kuite Khera village of Uttar Pradesh.She intends to use them as seeds in the coming rabi season (October to December),as she is facing acute shortage of seeds. “I had kept these for consumption but will now use them as seeds,” says Rani. “We neither get quality seeds from the government nor from the market and these seeds are our last hope,”she adds. Rani is not alone.Thousands of farmers across India are facing crop loss and seed deficit even as prices hit the roof.India is the world’s largest pulse producing, consuming and importing country.
Far away, in the African country of Malawi,pulse growers rejoice over a windfall gain they are set to make. To overcome the shortfall in pulse production this year, the Indian government has decided to import 5,000 tonnes of pigeon pea ( arhar daal) from Malawi.
These developments raise many questions over the farming of pulses in India, which has emerged as the most politically sensitive crop in recent times.And not without reasons.
Around the time the National Democratic Alliance (nda) government was celebrating near zero food inflation in its first year in power, consumers across the country felt the pinch of food inflation again. Within a span of one month (May) it rose from 4.8 per cent to 5.48 per cent. In fact, retail prices of pulses have risen by up to 64 per cent in the last one year across the country.
The major driver of food inflation was the hike in prices of pulses, which was caused by the crop loss due to untimely rains. India’s pulses production fell from 19.25 million tonnes in 2013-14 to 17.3 million tonnes in 2014-15, while imports rose from 3.18 million tonnes in 2013-14 to 4.58 million tonnes in 2014-15.
From the prime minister, the finance
Unlike rice and wheat, the government does not procure pulses, leaving farmers dependent on the
vagaries of the market