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India’s Pulses Imports Surge 84% in FY 2024 


India’s imports of pulses surged by 84% in fiscal 2024, reaching a six-year high. This significant increase is attributed to lower domestic production and the government’s decision to waive import duties on red lentils and yellow peas.


GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Current Status of Pulses in India
  2. India’s Initiatives to Boost Pulses Production
  3. Reasons Behind India’s Dependence on Pulses Imports
  4. Strategies to Ensure India’s Self-Sufficiency in Pulses

Current Status of Pulses in India

  • Global Position: India is the world’s largest producer (25%), consumer (27%), and importer (14%) of pulses.
  • Contribution: Pulses cover about 20% of the area under foodgrains and contribute 7%-10% to the total foodgrains production in India.
  • Top Producing States: Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Karnataka are the leading states in pulses production.
Imports and Exports:
  • FY 2023-24 Imports: India imported 4.65 million metric tons of pulses, a significant increase from 2.53 million tons in 2022-23, marking the highest since 2018-19.
  • Value Surge: The import value of pulses surged by 93% to USD 3.75 billion.
  • Specific Imports:
    • Red lentil imports, mainly from Canada, doubled to 1.2 million tons.
    • Duty-free imports since December led to increased yellow pea imports from Russia and Turkey.
  • Key Export Sources: South Asian nations, including India, primarily import pulses from Canada, Myanmar, Australia, Mozambique, and Tanzania.
Pulse Characteristics:
  • Cultivation Conditions:
    • Temperature: 20-27°C
    • Rainfall: 25-60 cm
    • Soil Type: Sandy-loamy soil
  • Nutritional Value: Pulses are major sources of protein in vegetarian diets.
  • Agricultural Benefits:
    • Being leguminous crops, all pulses except arhar help restore soil fertility by fixing nitrogen from the air, making them suitable for crop rotation.
  • Cultivation Cycle:
    • Rabi Pulses (60% contribution): Gram (chickpea), Chana (Bengal gram), Masoor (lentil), Arhar (pigeon pea). These crops require a mild cold climate during sowing, vegetative to pod development, and warm climate during maturity/harvesting.
    • Kharif Pulses: Moong (green gram), Urad (black gram), Tur (arhar dal). Kharif pulse crops require a warm climate throughout their lifecycle from sowing to harvesting.

India’s Initiatives to Boost Pulses Production

National Food Security Mission (NFSM)-Pulses:
  • Objective: To enhance the production of pulses through various interventions.
  • Coverage: Operates in 28 States and 2 Union Territories, including Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
  • Key Interventions:
    • Assistance to Farmers: Financial and technical support to farmers through States/UTs for various interventions.
    • Cropping System Demonstrations: Promoting best practices and demonstrating efficient cropping systems to farmers.
    • Seed Production and Distribution: Focus on producing and distributing High Yielding Varieties (HYVs) and hybrids of pulse seeds.
  • Seed Hubs: Establishment of 150 Seed Hubs for Pulses has been instrumental in increasing the availability of quality pulse seeds.
 Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan (PM-AASHA) Scheme:
  • Launched: 2018
  • Components:
    • Price Support Scheme (PSS):
      • Involves the procurement of pulses from pre-registered farmers at Minimum Support Price (MSP).
    • Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS):
      • Compensates farmers for the price difference between the MSP and the actual market price.
    • Private Procurement Stockist Scheme (PPSS):
      • Aims to encourage private sector participation in the procurement of pulses.
Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR):
  • Role: To enhance the productivity and quality of pulse crops through research and development.
  • Focus Areas:
    • Collaborative Research: Partnering with State Agricultural Universities for applied research.
    • Variety Development: Development of location-specific high-yielding varieties and production packages.
  • Achievements (2014-2023):
    • Recognized 343 high-yielding varieties and hybrids of pulses for commercial cultivation across India.

Reasons Behind India’s Dependence on Pulses Imports

Shift in Agricultural Practices:

  • Traditional Crop Rotation: Historically, farmers in India practiced crop rotation with pulses.
  • Shift to Water-Intensive Cereals:
    • Rice and wheat have become more predominant due to increased consumption demands and government incentives.
    • Availability of better irrigation facilities has further promoted the cultivation of these water-intensive cereals.

Economic Factors:

  • Lower Returns from Pulses: Pulses often offer lower economic returns per hectare compared to cereals, discouraging their cultivation, especially on fertile and irrigated lands.

Environmental Challenges:

  • Erratic Rainfall and Droughts: Pulse production is generally rain-fed, making it susceptible to fluctuations in rainfall and drought conditions.
  • Research and Development: Less focus on R&D for pulses, coupled with their higher susceptibility to diseases and pests, makes them less attractive to farmers compared to cereals and cash crops.

Strategies to Ensure India’s Self-Sufficiency in Pulses

Economic Incentives:

  • Competitive MSPs: Offer Minimum Support Prices for pulses that are competitive with rice and wheat.
  • Subsidies: Provide subsidies for seeds, fertilizers, and other agricultural inputs specific to pulse cultivation.
  • Crop Insurance Schemes: Mitigate risks associated with weather fluctuations through crop insurance schemes.

Promotion of Sustainable Farming Practices:

  • Crop Rotation: Encourage farmers to reintegrate pulses into their cropping patterns, emphasizing the long-term benefits for soil health and sustainable farming.
  • Research and Development: Invest in the development of drought-resistant, high-yielding pulse varieties tailored to different regional conditions.
  • Farmer Training and Extension Programs: Promote the adoption of improved pulse varieties through farmer training and extension programs.

Infrastructure and Technology:

  • Irrigation Facilities: Expand irrigation facilities to suitable areas for pulse cultivation, particularly in drought-prone regions.
  • Water-Efficient Techniques: Promote water-efficient irrigation techniques like drip irrigation to conserve water.

Supply Chain Management and Storage:

  • Improved Storage Facilities: Enhance storage facilities for pulses to minimize post-harvest losses and ensure price stability throughout the year.
  • Streamline Supply Chain: Improve efficiency in the supply chain to reduce transportation costs and minimize price manipulation by middlemen.

Promotion of Dietary Diversification:

  • Alternative Protein Sources: Encourage dietary diversification by promoting the consumption of protein-rich alternatives like lentils, millets, and eggs, addressing hidden hunger and enhancing nutritional intake.

-Source: The Hindu

May 2024