A roadmap to achieve pulses self-sufficiency for India by increasing production, yield and area under pulses, and by setting up seed hubs and demonstration of best technologies was recently drawn up by the Government of India (GoI) in consultation with national and international research institutes. The government announced the implementation of a Pulses Program, with an outlay of ` 4.05 billion (US$ 60.44 million), over the next four years to achieve self-sufficiency in pulses.
At a recent workshop, detailed plans were developed which include creating 150 seed hubs across the country to produce quality seeds. ICRISAT will be one of the seed hubs.
These hubs will be set up by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). Funding to strengthen the facilities for seed production, processing and storage will be available along with the provision to establish a revolving fund for operational expenditure.
The target set for production is 23.5 million tons by 2020 and 27.5 million tons by 2025, while the target for average yield has been set at 900 kg per ha by 2020 and 1,000 kg per ha by 2025 against the current average yield of 750 kg per ha. The area under pulse crops is targeted to reach 26 million ha by 2020 and 27.5 million ha by 2025 against the current area of 24 million ha.
India is the largest producer (18.2 million tons), consumer (over 22 million tons) and importer (3-5 million tons per year) of pulses. The current initiative is an effort to bridge this gap.
Plans are in place to conduct 100 clusters of demonstrations on best-bet technologies across the country, with each cluster covering an area of 100 ha. Demonstrations will include crop varieties for all cropping seasons, cropping systems, mechanization, integrated crop management practices, grain processing and storage, value addition, marketing etc., so as to get an idea of the extent of enhancement in production and farmers’ income possible with available technologies.
Dr JS Sandhu, DDG, Crop Science, ICAR, spoke about scaling up seed production and distribution as a key intervention. Mr SK Pattanayak, Secretary, Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, GoI, emphasized three key areas: seeds of improved varieties, irrigation tailored to pulses (especially micro irrigation), and markets that allow farmers to increase their profitability aligned to improved farmer welfare. These priorities are aligned to the ICRISAT policy brief ‘Towards Self Sufficiency in Pulse Production in India’ submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) earlier this year at the request of the PMO.
“ICRISAT can best support through accelerated seed production of improved varieties, facilitate and model upscaling through existing partnership with key state governments of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Odisha and possibly Uttar Pradesh. This will be through our work on the science of delivery and application of business intelligence platforms to coordinate on-the-ground activities and implement key performance indicators to track progress and make course corrections,” said Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT.
“ICRISAT has the additional strength to involve private sector partners to vertically integrate farmers into higher value chains as well as value addition and marketing through Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) and associations like Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA). As the state governments will implement the programs, ICRISAT can integrate pulse self-sufficiency targets into the ongoing pulse related work in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Odisha,” he added.
Dr Bergvinson in his address, emphasized the need for detailed crop-wise implementation plans, based on the production and market demand at the district level. “Realization and implementation will require granular work plans with key performance indicators and defined partnerships along the value chain. This will ensure profit for farmers and that targeted production based on market demand is achieved,” he said. He also mentioned that convergence of key partners is required for success at scale.
Dr Sandhu also reiterated the need for coordination and integration along the value chain. The absence of private sector was noticeable and this is an area where ICRISAT can play a role – bringing together public and private sector partners to scale up pulse production.
An important takeaway from the ‘Productivity Enhancement’ session was that many technologies exist but are not adopted due to poor knowledge exchange systems, poor economics and access to inputs. Dr PK Joshi, Director South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), said that long and fragmented value chains associated with pulses discourages farmers from cultivating pulses. He suggested that the milk marketing model, which has been successful in increasing availability of milk in India, may be studied and adopted for pulses.
Discussions were also held with Mr Avinash K Srivastava, Secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, GoI and Mr Sanjay Lohia, Joint Secretary (Crops), Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmer Welfare (DAC&FW), GoI, and Dr Bergvinson on market integration through the National Agricultural Marketing platform, warehouse receipts to reduce price volatility for farmers and grades and standards that can be automated to improve pricing for farmers and quality for consumers.
The two-day workshop “Towards Self-sufficiency of Pulses in India” was led by the Indian Institute of Pulses Research and organized by the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) on 7-8 April in New Delhi, India. Some of the sessions were: genetic enhancement; productivity enhancement; smart farming; harvest and post-harvest management; trade and policy; new dimensions, etc.
The meeting was attended by high-level government officials, NAAS fellows and representatives from the Borlaug Institute for South Asia (BISA), International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Bioversity, IFPRI and ICRISAT.