Saddled with imports until last year, India is set to achieve self sufficiency in pulses in FY 2018-19, wth a high kharif output and likelihood of record rabi season production due to an all-time high acreage and favourable agro climatic condition. Until last year, that is 2016-17, India remained heavily dependent on import of pulses of different varieties, including chick peas from Australia, tur from Myanmar and other varieties from Canada and a number of non-consuming but large-growing African countries. Apex industry body, India Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA), puts India’s import at around 5.7 million tonnes of pulses during FY2017, almost similar to 5.8 million tonnes imported during the previous financial year. According to the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCIS), India has imported pulses worth $2.47 billion for the period between April and November 2017 to meet its growing consumer demand. During financial year 2016-17, India had set a record in imported pulses at $4.24 billion, up from $3.90 billion the previous year. “Pulses output during the kharif 2017 season is estimated at 8.71 million tonnes, slightly lower than last year’s level of 9.42 million tonnes. With increase in acreage and better seed distribution and agro climatic condition, we are estimating total acreage at 16-16.5 million hectares, due to which about 2.5-3 million tonnes of additional pulses during rabi 2017 season, which would be available for marketing in FY 2018-19. This means total pulses availability in India would be around 24-25 million tonnes, over and above nearly two million tonnes of buffer stock available with the Food Corporation of India (FCI). So, India does not need to import pulses. Some specific varieties might be compensated with exports of the varieties grown largely in India,” said a senior government official. With a steady growth of 4-5 per cent, India requires around 24 million tonnes of pulses a year to fulfill its demand. Data compiled by the Ministry of Agriculture showed total acreage under rabi pulses jumped by nearly 5 per cent to hit the highest ever at 16.31 million ha which works out to about 15 per cent more than the average of the past five years. S Ganeshan, Advisor to Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI), said that looking at the lowest possible import of pulses from India this year, the Australian and Canadian governments have advised their farmers not to grow pulses this year. “We need to focus on market development before concentrating on boosting agricultural production,” he added. India, however, has not yet developed any such an advisory system to make farmers aware of their realisation before they sow any crop.
While many market forecasters pre-empt production and availability of any particular crop, they do not anticipate prices of farm produce. Even if they do make forecasts, they often prove wrong.“India is set to attain self-sufficiency in pulses this year due to three primary factors: increase in acreage under rabi pulses, aggressive replacement and availability of quality seeds during peak sowing season, and better irrigation facilities this year. Earlier, many areas with potential to grow pulses had been left without sowing any crop. Since wheat is grown with increasing intensity of winter, semi-cold regions are left unsown with any rabi crop. This year, the government has encouraged famers to grow pulses in semi-cold regions like Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. This will result into higher pulses output this year,” said Vijay Sardana, an agriculture expert. Apart from that, many pulses growing areas such as Latur and Marathwada have better irrigation facilities this year. As a result, there is potential for higher yield, which will help achieve higher production this year. Importers like K C Bharatiya, however, see room for two million tonnes of import even with higher domestic production.