ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Shortfall in Pulses

This is with reference to the article “Pulses: Need for Production Expansion’’ (EPW, 29 August 2015) by Tulsi Lingareddy. The decline in production of pulses from 19.25 million tonnes (2013–14) to 17.20 million tonnes (2014–15 crop season, fourth advance estimate) is one of the major causes of the rise in prices of pulses, as a result of which the quantity of pulses imported has also increased by about 1.41 million tonnes over the previous year. Given the rise in the prices of pulses the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution wants to continue with the duty-free import of pulses while the Ministry of Agriculture wants to impose a 10% duty on import of pulses to safeguard the interests of Indian farmers. If we do an analysis of the production of pulses in the past and plan accordingly, then it may help to resolve the situation to some extent in future.

Total production way back in 1978–79 in Jammu and Kashmir and Haryana was 36,600 tonnes and 10,84,000 tonnes, respectively, which during 2012–13 decreased to 14,200 tonnes and 1,30,000 tonnes, respectively. Pulses production in Punjab stood at 3,45,000 tonnes in 1977–78 which came down to 53,000 tonnes in 2012–13. Similarly for Kerala, Bihar and West Bengal production in 1976–77 stood at 17,300 tonnes, 7,02,000 tonnes and 3,51,000 tonnes, respectively, which declined to 3,200 tonnes, 5,42,000 tonnes and 1,92,000 tonnes, respectively, in 2012–13. Pulses production in Orissa was 8,86,000 tonnes in 1980–81 which came down to 4,24,000 tonnes in 2012–13. If we add up the decline in production for all these states it comes to 20,63,000 tonnes, that is, 2.063 million tonnes. India imported 4.58 million tonnes of pulses in 2014–15 and 3.17 million tonnes in the previous year. This means India imported an additional 1.41 million tonnes of pulses during 2014–15. Now if we could have maintained the same level of higher production for the seven states discussed here, then it would have at least offset the need to import this additional quantity of pulses. The decline in pulses production in India over the past decades may be attributed to the policies which focused on cereals (thereby diverting the area under pulses towards cereals), thus resulting in a neglect of this important crop. The need is to frame coherent policies which give due weightage to all the critically important crops so that India does not have to rely on imports and also that the interests of farmers as well as consumers are not compromised. 

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