Constraints to Increase Pulse Production in India

In recent years, pulses have become the main drivers of food prices inflation in India. There are three reasons behind this:

  • High demand-supply gap. The above data shows that despite being largest producer of pulses, India is dependent on import of pulses to bridge the demand supply gap.
  • Low productivity and low growth in productivity. The average yield per hectare of total pulses has grown by less than one per cent annually, on average, since 1950s. This has naturally been outstripped by population growth.

Constraints to increase pulse Production

Production of major pulses is constrained by both biotic / abiotic stresses and socio-political problems. The main biotic stresses that block pulse productivity include various pests. We note here that legume crops are rich in N and P and it makes them attractive for insect pests and diseases. Most of the pulses in India are grown in low fertility, problematic soils and unpredictable environmental conditions. More than 87% of the area under pulses is rainfed as shown in below graphics:

In these areas, issue is of availability of water. Thus, areas of pulse production in India are subject to drought and heat stress of arid and semi arid regions, which brings down its yield. Further, the arid and semi arid areas of the country face problem of alkaline and acidic soils. Since long, governments gave little importance to pulses in comparison to staples. Only in recent times, government started providing MSP support to pulses viz. Gram, Lentil, Urad, Tur and Moong. Despite of this, farmers in India treat pulses as secondary crops. The cost of input in case of pulses is higher in comparison to staple crops. Farmers have low purchasing power and they would give first priority to staple cereals and cash crops. Due to this, pulses in our country continue to be grown on poor soils with low inputs.

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