Technological breakthroughs needs to increase India’s pulse production

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India is expected to soon announce a hike in minimum support price (MSP) for pulses, but a key government think tank said the increase is unlikely to boost production in the long term unless backed by technological breakthroughs.

Niti Aayog member Ramesh Chand told an event organised by a policy group that the government needed to rethink its policy on pulses as pressure on retail prices were likely to continue until the demand-supply gap was not reduced through introduction of new technologies.

India has been battling high prices of pulses as it produces far less than it consumes, forcing it to import lentils from countries such as Myanmar.

“I agree to some extent that by giving higher prices will bring some shift in area to pulses, but it will not help us in raising production too much.” media quoted Chand as saying.

He said prices of pulses, which were at par with wheat and rice not long ago, were six times higher than the grains currently.

The government plans to increase the minimum price it buys pulses from the farmers by up to 200 rupees/quintal soon to encourage higher cultivation of the crop.

However, Chand said any increase would have little impact as open market prices were already 50 percent higher than the MSP.

He said the prices of pulses would continue to be high because of 4-7 million tonnes shortfall in supplies, which could be augmented through technological breakthroughs.

Pulses are globally in short supply and India is pushing its main source Myanmar to produce more while turning to Africa for supplies. It has also decided to form a buffer stock of pulses in place from this year to meet the demand and keep prices in check.

India’s production of pulses is estimated be 17.33 million tonnes this year, marginally higher than the previous year’s production of 17.15 million tonnes, but much below the record 19.25 million tonnes achieved in 2013-14 crop year.

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