PULSES :REASONS FOR LOW PRODUCTION AND SOLUTIONS
Reasons for Low Production of Pulses
- Substitution of pulses by other crops like high yielding varieties which gives more yield and on them government gives more proportionate MSP to farmers;
- Shift in pulses cultivation to less productive drylands– The improvement in area under cultivation during the late 1970s and 1980s was primarily on account of a shift in pulses cultivation to the drylands of central and southern regions of the country;
- Limited improvement in the yields of pulses compared to other food crops– yields have remained unstable and volatile as a majority of pulses have been cultivated under rainfed conditions, and are affected by uncertain rains. About 85% of pulses cultivation is still rain-fed.
- pulses are more susceptible to infestations of pests and disease compared to cereals.
- The prices of pulses have been rising and has been over 110 Rd per kg for most of them. Since the contribution of pulses is only fractional (0.72%) in the total weight of the WPI, the sharp increase in their prices has not been reflected in the overall inflation, which has been deflating and as it is a low cost imp protein rich resource ,it reduces affordability,
- Despite being the largest producer of pulses in the world, India has become the largest importer as domestic production has not kept pace with demand.
- The per capita availability of pulses declined steadily from about 69 grams per day in 1961 to 51 grams per day in 1971, and to about 43 grams per day in 2013 (GoI 2015), due to sluggish growth in production since the 1960s.
HOW TO BOOST PRODUCTION
- Short-term Strategies
Under the current scenario of spiralling prices, the requisite step is to augment supplies through imports and distribute them through the public distribution system (PDS) to the poor and through open market sale to contain the rise in market prices.
- Long-term Strategies:
- Decrease imports as it leads to goregoing of precious Foreign exchange
- Price Support and Procurement: Hike in MSP should be followed by active procurement operations.
- Stabilise Supply via PDS: In view of the persistent shortages and volatile prices of pulses, a more focused PDS— with a widespread network of procurement and a steady supply through distribution arrangements—seems to be a holistic approach to bring stability to pulses markets.
- Incentivising Cultivation: the government has not been providing any incentives to encourage cultivation of pulses, despite the need to raise the production levels and the advantages of cultivation like limited water requirement in their critical stages of growth, short crop cycles of three to six months, enrichment of soil nutrients through nitrogen fi xation, etc
- Development of HYVs: There is scope for increasing yields of pulses with the latest advances in biotechnology.The scope for development of multiple resistant varieties has increased after recent advances in genomics.
- Agricultural Extension
(i) Pulses-based cropping systems like rice–pulses instead of rice–wheat to
augment soil nutrients and reduce input costs.
(ii) Cultivation of short duration pulses like urad and moong as catch crops
in rice fallows.
(iii) Positive externalities of cultivating pulses such as the soil nutrient
enhancing capabilities of pulses through nitrogen fixation and the
minimal water requirements at critical growth stages of pulses
compared to other crops.
(iv) Distribution of good quality seeds for free.
(v) Facilitating inoculation of seeds with soil bacteria (rhizobium) before
sowing to increase yield and reduce the requirement for fertilisers.
- Immediate steps must be taken to shift pulses cultivation to more fertile and/or irrigated lands through input incentives and procurement support.
- Efforts should also be taken to develop HYVs to overcome the stagnation in yields.
- Agricultural extension systems should be utilised to popularise improved cultivars and better package of practices along with the complete merits of cultivation of pulses among farmers.