The Gist of Kurukshetra: January - 2017

The Gist of Kurukshetra: January 2017

Strategies for Achieving Self-Sufficiency in Pulses and Oilseeds

India is a proud nation enjoying self-sufficiency in foodgrain production and sustainable food security despite burgeoning population and various climatic stresses. But there is no room for complacency, because country is still facing severe challenges in pulse and oilseeds sectors. Poor productivity and low gross production compel country to resort to frequent imports for meeting the domestic demand of pulses and oilseeds. The widening gap between demand and supply often leads to skyrocketing of prices in domestic market, especially in pulses, which is a cause of major concern for general public and the Government alike. More than two years ago, the new Government took a decisive step and developed strategies for achieving self-sufficiency in pulses and oilseeds. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, while launching DD Kisan Channel on 26th May 2015, urged and motivated farmers to work hard in a mission mode for achieving self-sufficiency in pulses by 2022, when India will be celebrating its platinum jubilee of Independence. Prime Minister expressed his concern over widespread protein malnutrition in the country which can be eradicated by regular and adequate supply of pulses to poor families.

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is supporting the endeavours through its R&D programmes, extension mechanism and expert inputs for devising future vision for these important commodities. Government of India is also supporting 'International Year of Pulses - 2016' a call given by United Nations, by organizing various activities and events among stakeholders with the objective to promote farming of pulses across the country. Similarly, an International Conference is being organized this month (12-14 November 2016) on 'Pulses for Nutritional Security and Sustainable Agriculture' in which researchers, policy planners, extension personnel, industrialists, entrepreneurs will deliberate to develop a roadmap for increasing productivity and more importantly profitability of pulses.

Pulses: Production, Demand and Supply

India is the largest producer of pulses in the world (approximately) 25 per cent of the total 80 million tonnes} and also enjoys distinction of being largest consumer (nearly 28 per cent) as well. Recently, India fetched the unappreciable position of number one importer due to frequent and large imports. According to 'VISION-2050' of ICAR - Indian Institute of Pulses Research (IDPR), Kanpur the present production of pulses hovers around 19 million tonnes, which falls short (approximately two million tonnes) of the current domestic demand of 21 million tonnes. In order to narrow down the demand - supply gap and control process in domestic market, the country resorts to import pulses to the tune of 2-3 million tonnes per year entailing significant expenditure in terms of valuable foreign exchange. The country is growing pulses in an area of about 24 to 25 million hectares of land with productivity of about 780 kg a hectare which is less than the global average and a major cause of concern. Currently, daily per capita availability of pulses is 37 gram which is considerably lower than the ICMR recommendation of 52 gram. If we dream of a healthy India in 2050, the requirement of pulses will be 39 million tonnes which necessitates an annual growth rate of2.14 percent. To meet the projected demand, productivity must be enhanced to a level of 1200 kg per hectare and about 3 to 5 million hectares additional area has to be brought under pulses across the country. Serious efforts are required to drastically reduce the post harvest losses as well. But the pathway to achieve the target has many inherent technical and socio-challenges and problems.

Presently, more than 92 per cent of the area under pulses is confined to unirrigated areas where farming chiefly depends on monsoon rains. Drought or drought like conditions, coupled with heat stress may reduce seed yields by 50 per cent, especially in arid and semi-arid regions. Most of the pulses are grown in low fertility and problematic soils struggling with salinity and alkalinity.

Generally, pulses are grown by resource poor farmers and treated as secondary crops with finest productivity to staple cereals and other cash crops. As a consequence, pulses are generally deprived of essential inputs, due care and latest technologies. Availability of quality seed of improved varieties is one of the major constraints in increasing productivity of pulses. Besides, till recently, farmers were not getting attractive prices for pulses which was a major cause of discouragement for pulse farming.

Efforts Towards 'Pulses for AII'

The Government has launched many new initiatives and strengthened various programmes to give a round fillip to production of pulses in the country.

Government of India is operating a comprehensive National Food Security Mission (NFSM) to maintain sustainable food security in the country which provides support to pulses, cereals, millets and selected commercial crops. Previously the NFSM was operative only in limited States, but the present Government extended its benefits to all 29 states and 638 districts during 2014-15. But, with reference to pulses, a major decision was taken to exclusively dedicate 50 per cent allocations for development of pulses alone. This will benefit north-eastern States and hilly States, such as Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand. These States have appreciable potential for cultivation of pulses, but previously, the pulse farming was not getting its due share mainly due to lack of sufficient resources. The support provided by NFSM will definitely boast pulse production in these areas and across the country.

A special attraction of nearly Rs. 20 crore has been made exclusively for increasing area under pulses during various cropping seasons. Cultivation of pulses is being promoted as an inter crop with cereals, oilseeds and cash crops with introduction of suitable varieties and package of practices. Scientists have demonstrated successful cultivation of pigeon pea on bunds of rice fields. Similarly, pulse crop is being encouraged in rice fallow areas under 'Bringing Green Revolution in Eastern India' scheme. Summer Moong (green gram) cultivation is also being promoted through necessary technical support. Rice fallows in the India-Gangetic Plains offer a huge potential for expansion of the area of rabi pulses such as chickpea and lentil. Short duration varieties of chickpea and lentil, successfully grown after rice harvest in some States, have given reasonably high yields. Several on-farm trials have indicated that pigeon pea can be grown profitably in place of rice during the kharif season allowing timely sowing of wheat crop.

Present Government strengthened frontline demonstration program in pulses by allocating funds and facilitating better support. Under these demonstrations, extension scientists arrange ideal farming conditions at farmers' fields demonstrating scientific production technologies by adopting improved varieties, judicious use of manures and fertilisers and scientific management of pests and diseases. Necessary and critical inputs are also provided. Frontline demonstrations are arranged with the objective to demonstrate full potential of pulse crops to farmers so that they get convinced for production of pulses in their fields. During 2015-16, more than 60,000 pulse demonstrations were conducted covering 22,000 hectare of land across the country. More than 475 Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) - Farm Science Centres of ICAR located in each rural district of the country - were involved in the process. With more allocations, 77500 demonstrations over 31,000 hectare area are planned for 2016-17. Recent reports indicate a very positive response of these demonstrations as pulse area in these districts is on the rise.

On the Price Front

Present Government has expressed its commitment, time and again to safeguard and protect interests of farmers and consumers alike. Hence, Government has substantially increased Minimum Support Prices (MSP) of pulses and enhanced imports to meet rising domestic demand. In addition, adequate buffer stock of pulses is also being creased. Recently, Government has increased MSPs of kharif pulses for 2016-17 reason as Rs. 5,050/-,per quintal, Rs. 5,225/- per quintal and Rs. 5,OOO/- per quintal for Tur (Arhar), Moong and Urad, respectively. The MSP includes a bonus of Rs. 425/- per quintal in each commodity. Government has also declared a bonus, over and above the MSP of Rs. 200/- per quintal for kharif pulses -of 2015-16 season and a bonus of Rs. 75/- per quintal for rabi pulses of 2016-17 marketing season. A substantial rise in annual compound growth rate of MSPs of pulses is also recorded, which is attracting farmers for wide scale adoption of pulses as major crops. Government has also developed a more transparent and beneficial purchase policy for pulses. Government has given clear directives that procurement is to be done under Price Support Scheme, if market prices are below MSP and under Price Stabilization Fund, if prices are above MSP.

Oils and Oil seeds

Edible oils occupy a unique place in Indian society, culture, dietary patterns and economy of the country. According to 'VISION - 2015' document of ICAR - Indian Institute of Oilseeds Research, Hyderabad, India is one of the largest vegetable oil economies in the world next to USA, China, Brazil and Argentina. Due to diverse agro-climatic conditions and geographical locations, farmers are able to grow all the nine annual oilseeds viz. groundnut, rapeseed - mustard, soybean, sunflower, sesame, safflower, niger, castor and linseed. Among these, castor and linseed oils are chiefly used for industrial and other applications. In India, oilseeds are the second most important crop after cereals sharing 14 per cent of the country's gross cropped area and accounting for nearly 3 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Value wise, oilseeds constitutes nearly 6 per cent of the value of all agricultural products. India grows oilseeds on an area of nearly 27 million hectares with productivity of 1108 kg per hectare for the quinquennium during 2013-14. Consumption / demand of vegetable oils is increasing steadily because of the lifestyle changes in dietary pattern and increasing per capita income. According to estimates, to meet the per capita demand of nearly 17 kg per year, India will require 28.51 million tonnes of vegetable oils in 2050. In other words, country will have to produce about 94.94 million tonnes of oilseeds by 2050 from the existing production of 32.75 million tonnes to achieve near self-sufficiency in oilseeds. India needs a three-fold increase in the oilseeds production in the next nearly 35 years. Interestingly, India is also largest cultivator of oilseeds in the world and paradoxically meets into more than 50 per cent requirement through imports from various countries.

Like pulses, Frontline Demonstrations in oilseeds have been initiated involving 300 KVKs across the country. More than 44,000 demonstrations were conducted covering nearly 18,000 hectare area during 2015-16. More than 24,000 demonstrations covering nearly 60,000 hectare area have been planned for 2016-17 and rural youths will also be involved in the process. Farmers are realizing potential of oilseeds crops through these demonstrations and are adopting these remunerative crops in large scale. In addition, Government has raised MSPs of kharif oilseeds for 2016-17 season to make the crops more remunerative. -Now MSP of groundnut-in-shell stands at Rs. 4,220/- per quintal which includes Rs. 100/- as bonus. Similarly, MSPs of soybean, sunflower seed, niger seed and sesamum have hiked to Rs. 2,775/-, Rs. 3,950/, Rs. 3,825/- and Rs. 5,000/- per quintal respectively including bonus.

Farmers' Welfare

Present Government has launched a number of schemes for the welfare of farmers by increasing profitability of agriculture through policy initiatives. These schemes also helping pulse and oilseeds farmers to raise their income level by increasing field production and productivity. 'Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana' promises security of income to farmers despite natural vagaries at a very nominal premium. Similarly, e-VAM, a panlndia electronic trading platform assures high income to farmers through a transparent process. 'Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana' is continuously expanding irrigation facilities to newer areas and also helping increase irrigation efficiency by introduction of micro-irrigation techniques. A comprehensive and nation-wide soil health card scheme is helping farmers to increase land fertility and productivity. All these schemes, initiatives, programmes and activities are helping India more towards self sufficiency in pulses and oilseeds.

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