August 28, 2015

28/08/2015: India’s pulses sector: trends, challenges and opportunities

India is the largest producer, consumer and importer of pulses in the world. This is due to India’s
enormously diverse culinary traditions that use many pulses and minor millets, say Raghavan Sampathkumar who comments on agribusiness from a political, socio-economic and cultural perspective on the country’s food value chain. Raghavan will be contributing to our ‘Commodities” section in MAG from time-to-time.

According to Mr Sampathkumar “India imports nearly three-to-four million tones of pulses annually,” adding that this fact is motivation “for India’s pulse and oilseed production to become self-reliant; with some aiming for this to happen by 2022.” Based on current average yields, India would need nearly seven-to-eight additional hectares of land to meet the gap in demand without imports. In order for India’s pulses sector to become self-reliant Sampathkumar believes that many obstacles have to be considered.

The first of these obstacles is the Indian agricultural and price policies. In India, food generall only means two crops; rice and wheat. Politics are always winning over economics; which is evident from entrenched policies such as the MSP (Minimum Support Prices) and procurement systems that seem to favour these two crops.

Issues around domestic farming: There are no reliable marketing opportunities for farmers to sell
Raghavan Samathakumar.
their crops, so why grow something that you cannot sell? Archaic laws such as APMC (Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee) regulations prevent farmers from into direct supply contracts with a processor or retailer. The safest crops to grow would be rice or wheat, which have minimum support prices that are increased annually and have established procurement systems.

Limited crucial statistics data within the sector: There is a lack of reliable data on production, acreage, and/or consumption. Estimates tend to vary vastly from source-to-source; not only for pulses but also for crops too. It is obvious what will happen when policies are made without reliable data on these parameters.

Sampathkumar believes that “if India is to achieve a self-reliant pulse and oilseed sector, it will require a holistic understanding of current of the food value chain and the agrarian situation in the country” Sampathkumar also believes that India is long poerdue “a review of current ag-food policies and increased investment in research and infrastructure for storage, food processing and marketing.”

Read more HERE.

The Global Miller
This blog is maintained by The Global Miller staff and is supported by the magazine GFMT
which is published by Perendale Publishers Limited.

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