The rising import of pulses to the tune of 5.797 million tonnes (MT) during 2015-16 and further import of 6.60 MT pulses during 2016-17 warranted the Government of India to implement planned strategies effectively taking all stakeholders on board. Since, India could produce 6.60 MT of additional pulses during 2016-17 and almost similar quantity of pulses (6.60 MT) was imported by various agencies in the same
year, price of pulses in domestic market crashed for almost all pulses excluding chickpea and up to some extent lentil. Since, research and development machinery of Government of India was vigilant on the issue of pulses; scheme for procurement of pulses directly from farmers was implemented immediately without time lapse. This resulted in procurement of about 2 MT of the pulses by the Government using price
stabilization funds to maintain buffer stock.

Considering the increase in area during 2017- 18 and expecting higher production of chickpea and lentil, Government of India has imposed 30 per cent import duty on chickpea and lentil and kept 50 per cent import duty on yellow pea (field pea) to protect interest of Indian farmers and encourage them to grow more pulses domestically. India has potential not only to sustain current level of production but to attain
self sufficiency in pulses production. The record sowing in current rabi pulses (16.91 m ha) has set tone for harvesting more pulses during 2017-18, and to be closer to attaining self-sufficiency in pulses production in India

Demand and Supply of Pulses: India is the largest consumer of pulses and demand of pulses is likely to increase further as more and more people are becoming health cautions. Government of India is fully aware of its responsibility of ensuring nutritional security through pulses. Recently, the Government has launched number of schemes to promote indigenous production of pulse cultivation so that much needed self sufficiency in pulses can be achieved and precious foreign exchange can be saved. The estimated demand suggests that India need to manage 26.50 MT of pulses to fulfil the pulse demand by 2020 which may further go up in subsequent years. This will help in maintaining present level of protein availability @38g per capita per day for human consumption and demand for seed and other uses. Further, the pulses demand has been projected to the tune of 26.5 MT by 2020, 32 MT by the year 2030 and 39 MT by 2050. Concerted efforts led to the development of more than 510 high yielding varieties of different pulses, insulated against major biotic and abiotic stresses along with matching integrated crop management technologies. These technologies have great potential to improve pulse production substantially as
evident from front line demonstrations.

Good agronomic practices: Besides, improved seeds, integrated crop production technologies have definite role to play. Several crop production technologies developed in past need to be integrated with newer ones to increase profitability from per unit area of pulses cultivation. These technologies include integrated nutrient management micro irrigation including dry sowing followed by light irrigation, seed priming, preand post- emergence herbicides application for effective weed management, etc. Some of important technologies well accepted are: Ridge planting and Application of micronutrients.

Integrated Insect Pest Management: Gram pod borer (Helicoverpa armigera Hubner) is the most important and dreaded pest infesting chickpea and pigeonpea crop. IPM modules developed have helped in minimizing damage due to Helicoverpa armigera.

Issues and strategies: A large number of issues relating to low productivity of pulses can be summarized as those relating to research, development and policy issues. Pulses are largely grown under rainfed and residual moisture which is one of major reasons for low yields. If appropriate measures are taken, most of these can be addressed for pulses. The major issues relating to research are detailed below:

Issues: Pulses are protein rich crops therefore more prone to biotic and abiotic stresses There is need to develop multi-adversities resistant varieties following integrated breeding approaches.

Strategies: Integrated breeding exploiting genomic tools (molecular markers) for transferring genes/QTLs of interest. Multidisciplinary team of scientists need to be developed for pulse improvement programs. Integration of molecular marker technology for increasing efficiency of selection has to be key tool to speed up to technology development. Need based alternative technology of transgenic development and gene
editing technology will be developed to solve problems those are cannot be easible with conventional means.

Strategies for Enhancing Pulses production:

Production of pulses can be enhanced substantially in India following two approaches i e. horizontal expansion by bringing additional area, and vertical expansion by increasing production per unit area of pulse cultivation.

Horizontal Expansion: Large areas remain fellow in eastern India and can be brought under pulses cultivation in phased manner to bring regional self-sufficiency in pulses as well. Secondly, non- traditional regions/alternative seasons can be used for pulses production and also to augment seed.

Making Quality seed available: Seed is the vital component for harvesting good yields from any crop by way of ensuring optimum plant population, proper crop health and growth. In case of pulses, quality seed supplies always remain a major production and productivity constraint. Recently, area under pulses has gone up by 3-4 m ha therefore demand for additional quality seed is expected to grow. To cover 30 percent of the pulse area with quality seeds about 30-35 lakh quintals of quality seed will be required annually. Considering importance of the quality seed, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW), Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India has approved an ICAR project "Creation of seed hubs for increasing indigenous production of pulses in India" to establish 150 Seed-Hubs in 24 states with a total outlay of Rs. Rs. 22531.08 lakh. This project has been implemented through ICAR-Indian Institute of Pulses Research (ICAR-llPR), Kanpur. 9 ICAR Institutes, 44 AICRPs located in different SAUs/CAUs; and 97 Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) are partners in this project. Agricultural Technology Application Research Institutes (ATARls) are collaborators for implementation of Seed-Hubs projects.

Value addition: Store grain pests cause huge losses to pulses grains when stored without splitting as most of the pulses are harvested at seed moisture content of around 14-15 per cent, which is good enough for multiplication of insect pests like bruchid. Therefore, capacity development needs to be taken up for value addition and small scale processing and milling machineries development for pulses. Keeping
changing consumption pattern and choice of young Indians in mind, investments must be made in research for development of value added ready- to-use products out of nutritious pulses.

Future: The kind of technologies such as high yielding varieties insulated against major biotic and abiotic stresses, and good agronomic practices including plant protection measures developed by ICAR and SAUs combined with various schemes launched for higher pulses production and positive policy support from Government can certainly enable the Indian farmers to produce more pulses in years to come. There are indications that during 2017-18 pulses production of previous year will not only sustain but it can further go up. However, to achieve self sufficiency in pulse production there is need of long term investment in research and development on sustained basis besides continuance of a favourable policy support.

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Courtesy: Kurukshetra