Govt eyes 1.5 mt of additional pulses output in rabi season starting Oct

The government has set a target to achieve an additional output of 1.5 million tonnes during the rabi sowing season beginning October – November.

To achieve this target, the government plans to implement “targeting rice fallow area (TRFA)” in eastern India - Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal - covering about 80 per cent of rice fallow under pulses and 20 per cent under oilseeds crops during 2018-19. The government also plans to release funds under various schemes to promote pulses cultivation in the northeastern states where most of the agricultural land is used for a single crop (growing one crop throughout the year).

“We are planning to cover 5,000 villages in the northeastern states this rabi season with a target to cover an area of 1.87 million ha which will contribute an additional production of 1.35 million tonnes of pulses and oilseeds during 2018-19,” said a senior food ministry official.

Beginning with 4,000 villages in 2016-17, covering an area of 1.5 million ha (1.2 million ha pulses and 0.3 million ha of oilseeds), the TRFA yielded nearly 1 million tonnes of pulses and oilseeds over the year. The programme was extended in 2017-18, resulting in an additional production of 792,000 tonnes of pulses and 112,000 tonnes of oilseed output during 2017-18.

With the expansion in acreage, the government is looking forward to additional output that will reduce India’s reliance on import. Most of the rice fallows were covered under pea, lentil, black gram, green gram, chickpea, arhar and lathyrus.

Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan believes that the expansion in acreage, with focus on the northeast, would help India progress towards self-reliance in pulses production. “Sometimes prices of imported agri commodities are decided by the cost of import which varies depending upon fluctuations in Indian currencies and change in world market dynamics. Therefore, the government is committed to using internal resources to raise local production to meet domestic consumption,” Paswan said on his recent visit to Mumbai.

Data compiled by the Ministry of Agriculture showed India a production estimate of 9.22 million tonnes of pulses for the kharif harvesting season that is set to begin in a few weeks. According to the fourth advanced estimate, India’s total pulses output was reported at 9.34 million tonnes for the 2017-18 kharif season. For rabi season, however, pulses production is estimated to be higher this year.

With a total output of 25.23 million tonnes, India achieved self-sufficiency in pulses for 2017-18, thanks to a revival of government policies.

In 2015-16, India’s total pulses output was reported at 16.35 million tonnes. Thus, the country had to import nearly 7-8 million tonnes of pulses from major producers such as Myanmar, Ukraine and Australia. India’s annual pulses consumption is estimated at 25 million tonnes.

Within two years, however, India has turned self-sufficient. The government wants India to become a net exporter of pulses in the near future.

Various interventions such as cluster demonstration on latest crop production technology, distribution of newly released varieties, integrated nutrient management (INM) and integrated pest management (IPM) techniques, water saving devices and farm implements are being promoted to increase the production of these crops.

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