Govt To Act As A Facilitator For Private Sector To Buy Land Abroad To Grow Pulses, Food
In order to meet the domestic demand, the government will act as a facilitator for private industry to buy land abroad to grow pulses, Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said.
At present, the country has about 23 million hectares of land under pulses cultivation that produces about 14-15 million tonnes of pulses annually.
The shortage of about 2-3 million tonnes is met through imports.
"As a government, we would not invest in buying land (to grow pulses) in other countries... my Ministry can definitely act as a facilitator if the private players show interest in this," Pawar said at the Global Pulses Summit in New Delhi on Sunday.
Some enterprising Indians are already leasing land in Africaand South Americafor growing pulses and exporting it back to India. "Such efforts need to be supported," he said.
The Minister expressed confidence about achieving the country's target output of an "all time record of 16.5 million tonnes of pulses this year". This is more than last year output of 14.57 million tonnes.
However, an expected higher production of pulses need not dampen the global trading community, as India is still far short of the projected (domestic) demand of nearly 25-30 million tonnes over the next decade, he pointed out.
Pawar said the government's policy on import of pulses would balance farmers' interest in a manner that will not allow distortion of domestic prices and they (farmers) will continue to get good price for their produce.
Besides, he added that the government was in the process of evolving a mechanism to work out regular tenders on pulses' import through state trading firms to ensure better planning and management of supply chain.
On short supply of some pulses in the global market, the Minister elaborated that there was little surplus available in the world for supply of red gram, black gram and green gram, which are preferred in the south and central parts of India.
"It is a challenge for us to ensure supply of these pulses, as they are grown in monsoon period and are prone to losses due to moisture stress," he said.
He also pressed on the need to enhance research efforts and even adoption of biotech tools to address the challenges of raising yield levels and reducing pest attacks on pulses crops.