2.2 mln ha
minister to the agriculture minister, everybody in the government has started talking about pulses. In an interaction with the media in June, Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said that the rise in the price of pulses was a burning issue.To evolve a strategy to check this price rise, the Union government convened a meeting of food ministers of all states in the first week of July. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a statement to farmers:“Grow pulses in onefifth of your land to overcome the shortage.I want to see India self-sufficient in the pulses sector by 2022.”
But will farmers like Rani Devi heed to Modi’s call? There is a huge gap in demand and supply and the market prices are lucrative. As per estimates made by the Union Ministry of Agriculture, the country requires to produce 28 million tonnes of pulses by 2021 to become self-sufficient.“India needs to grow pulses on an additional 6-7 million hectares (ha) to meet its targets,” says Raghvan Sampatkumar, a Singaporebased pulse trade expert.To meet this target there is a need to improve the yield to 1,100 kg/ha from the current 760 kg/ha.But farmers say they are not prepared to start farming pulses just yet. The reasons are many and they highlight the sorry state of pulse farming in India.
2015-16 India has not been able see a net increase in land under pulses cultivation since the 1960s. Though land under pulses cultivation has seen an increase in southern and central India, the gains made have been neutralised by the loss in cultivated area in the IndoGangetic belt (see ‘Shifting cultivation’). As a result pulse production did not see a major boost for a large part of the past 60 years. Between 1970 and 2008, the production of