2.2 mln ha

Down to Earth - - AGRICULTURE -

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.



South­ward shift


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

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