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

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Need to Use District-level Data

Availability of Pulses in Rural Karnataka

In a response to “Making Pulses Affordable Again” (EPW, 7 January 2017) by P K Joshi, Avinash Kishore and Devesh Roy this article aims to bring to the fore the importance of using district-level data on nutritional levels and pulse production, that can better inform public policy and help improve human development indicators.

Joshi et al (2017) identify the need to increase the production of pulses in India as a key policy priority. As a cost-effective protein source, an increase in the availability of pulses and their consumption, particularly by individuals below the poverty line (BPL), can address the nutritional security of some of the poorest people in India. We therefore agree with Joshi et al’s overall recommendation that state governments, across India, need to introduce policies that increase the production and availability of pulses. However, Joshi et al’s analysis based on state-level data, does not answer the question of where the greatest need and the greatest potential lies, to increase the production and consumption of pulses. We argue that in order to implement Joshi et al’s recommendations, Indian states will need to consider district-level data on nutrition deficiencies and yield potential of pulses.

Based on our analysis of Karnataka, we suggest that it is essential to identify district-level “hotspots” of (i) nutrition deficiencies, and (ii) pulse production potential. Some academics have suggested that identifying undernourished districts is necessary, prior to enacting interventions (Desai and Vanneman 2014). Furthermore, Karnataka is a rapidly urbanising state with significant urban and rural inequality (Ghori 2015).

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