Pulses Production Scenario: Policy and Technological Options
International Crops Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics, Policy Brief, No. 26
8 Pages Posted: 21 May 2013
Date Written: May 2013
Historically, India is the largest producer, consumer, and importer of pulses. Although it is the world’s largest pulses producer, there is still a huge shortage of pulses, and the prices are not affordable to a large section of consumers. An immediate need is the development and dissemination of low-cost technologies in pulses production so that they can be affordable to the common man. Even though pulses production increased by 3.35% annually during the last decade, the cost of production and consequent prices are too high to be affordable to the common man.
To increase production at a lower cost is a bigger challenge. The earlier experience shows that technological efforts need to be supported by the right policy environment to harvest fruits of R&D in agriculture. Still, the productivity of pulses in India is low at 694 kg/ha, and to make pulses production internationally competitive, the average yield levels need to be increased to at least 1ton/ha.
Some of the policy suggestions that emerged from the studies at ICRISAT to increase pulses production are: (1) Maintain a stable price band, which will give stable profits to farmers for a reasonably longer period through innovative market interventions for all pulse crops. (2) Strengthen government programs like National Food Security Mission (NFSM) to reduce yield gaps between farmers and research stations. (3) Develop low cost innovative seed systems and select farmers’ preferred varieties through farmers’ participatory varietal selection (FPVS) to replace old varieties. (4) Focus on abiotic and biotic stress management to increase stability in production through an integrated approach. (5) Provide incentives for adoption of low-cost technologies, such as the application of micro-nutrients to reduce the cost of production and increase yield. (6) Increase awareness about the utility of the wider adoption of farm machinery, herbicides, and micro-irrigation facilities to cope with labor and water shortages in rural areas. (7) Develop market infrastructure and information systems, and enhance credit availability in districts growing pulses.
On the R&D front, development of short duration, photothermo, insensitive varieties for different agro-ecologies, use of biotechnology tools for the development of new varieties with required traits, and development of bio-intensive low-cost integrated pest management (IPM) modules need to be given priority.
Keywords: grain legumes, production, technology policy
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