14)Pulses Conclave calls for a quantum leap in production

In the backdrop of endemic shortages, stagnant production and spiraling prices of pulses (Dal) in India, the two-day ‘Hyderabad Pulses Conclave 2010’ co-sponsored by ICRISAT and Agriwatch, called for increasing production of pulses by 2 million tons as envisaged by the National Food Security Mission, Government of India.

The Conclave is formally inaugurated today by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) Director General William D Dar at the ICRISAT Campus in Patancheru, Hyderabad, India.

Calling for increasing pulses production to meet the nutritional needs of the poor, Dr Dar in his keynote address said “India needs to mobilize innovations and delivery and support systems to ensure that these pulses are sufficiently produced locally. Our battle cry and our shared goal should be that India should be self-sufficient in pulses.”

N Raghuveera Reddy, Minister of Agriculture, Government of Andhra Pradesh addressing the Conclave said “I can assure you that we will not hesitate in providing the farmers with necessary extension support and timely availability of inputs, besides creating a transparent marketing infrastructure.”

R Gopalakrishnan, Executive Director, Tata Sons, called for leadership in mitigating shortage of pulses and said “Shortage of pulses is a long standing, multi-dimensional problem and we are heading for a disaster as pulses are designed for survival and not growth such as cereals.”

The conclave, jointly organized by ICRISAT and Agriwatch.com of Indian Agribusiness Systems Pvt. Ltd. has attracted stakeholders such as policy makers, researchers, traders and millers, , NGOs and seed producers. Issues related to pulse industry like production, post harvest technology, marketing, research and extension and seed systems will be taken up during the deliberations.  

Agriwatch Chairman NV Ramana said that the conclave is a significant attempt to bring under one roof research specialists, policy makers and traders to draw a road map for self sufficiency in pulses.  Rakesh Kackar, Additional Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Government of India; SA Patil, Chairman, Agricultural Commission, Government of Karnataka also spoke at the inaugural.

Pulses are mainstay of Indian cuisines and are the major sources of protein to the largely vegetarian population in India. Four states namely Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu cumulatively account for 15-20% of total pulses production in the country.  Being such an important food item that provides vital proteins to millions, its production and availability is skewed, resulting in scarcity and high price leading to intervention by both Federal & State Governments to ensure its adequate availability.

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