he agriculture ministry plans to lift ban on exports of pulses and edible oils, and seek cabinet approval for imposing 10% import duty on chana, to help protect farmers' interest, government officials said. "The farmer should get an opportunity to sell to whosoever gives him a good price. With this aim, we are proposing to lift export ban on pulses and edible oil," said an official from the agriculture ministry
India -the biggest producer of pulses at 19 million tonne and its biggest importer at 3.5-4 million tonne -banned exports of pulses in June 2006 and has been extending the ban since then. Only kabuli chana and organic pulses and lentils, with a ceiling of 10,000 tonne per annum, are allowed to be exported. Similarly, export of edible oil in bulk has not been allowed since 2008. It is permitted in small packs of up to 5 kg with minimum export of price of $1,100 a tonne. Industry insiders said lifting of export ban would be a boon to farmers and industry players, without making a big impact on consumers. Pravin Dongre, chairman of Indian Pulses and Grains Association, said: "If exports are allowed, farmers will get a better realisation for their produce, there will be more investment in the sector, and it will be huge game changer for the pulses industry." He also said a 10% import duty on chana would ensure remunerative prices to farmers and push planting of the crop. Many national brands from Tata to Adani are present in branded pulses retail. Chana in Naya Bazar wholesale market of New Delhi is priced about `. 37 a kg. Dongre said the new crop will arrive from February, adding that a marginal increase in prices will not make a huge impact on consumers. BV Mehta, executive director at Solvent Extractors' Association of India, too, said that export of 50,000 tonne edible oil, out of the 19 million tonne produced in the country, would hardly make a difference to consumer prices. "Export in bulk should be opened. There is huge demand for groundnut oil in China and rice bran oil in Japan and Thailand," he said. Groundnut oil, sesame oil, mustard oil, coconut oil and ricebran oil are also much in demand by the non-resident Indians living abroad. India is the top importer of vegetable oils, but, Mehta pointed out, only 10,000 tonne of edible oil is exported from the country annually. A government official said: "We can continue to import cheap palm oil, but let the high cost groundnut and other oils be allowed to be exported to help farmers." The Central Board of Excise and Customs recently increased customs duty on crude oil to 7.5% from 2.5% earlier, and duty on refined edible oil to 15% from 10%, through a notification.
India has extended a ban on export of pulses until further orders to support supplies at home and keep a lid on local prices, a government statement said.
The world's biggest producer and consumer of pulses initially banned exports of the commodity in June 2006. It has been extending the ban since then.
But the ban is not applicable on export of kabuli chana, a premium grade of chickpea, and 10,000 tonnes of organic pulses and lentils a year, said the statement posted on a government website.
India annually consumes over 21 million tonnes of pulses but produces only 17-18 million tonnes. The gap is met through imports from Australia, Canada and Myanmar.
India has permitted exports of about 291 tonnes of pulses, the shipment of which is banned, to Maldives till 2016-17 through public sector undertaking.
"Export of pulses to Maldives has been permitted for the years 2014-15 to 2016-17," Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has said in a notification. Although exports of pulses are banned, the Indian government ships the commodity to the neighbouring country on diplomatic grounds, a source said.
Pulses exports are banned since June 2006 to augment the domestic supply and check prices. India is the largest consumer of the foodgrain. The country imports pulses to meet the domestic production shortfall of 3-4 million tonnes. For 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17, the government has allowed exports of 87.85 tonnes, 96.63 tonnes and 106.29 tonnes respectively to Maldives.
As per the government estimate, the country is expected to produce 19.8 million tonnes (MT) of pulses this year, which includes 9.8 MT of chana crop, while trade figures says only 6.5 MT of chana crop this year. Official figures show that India imported around 1.4 MT of pulses between April to September 2013.
The world agricultural markets — grains, oilseeds, sugar and others reeling under a strong rebound in production and markedly softer prices — are likely to face further downward price pressures, thanks to record harvests expected in India. A recent media headline described Sharad Pawar as the World’s happiest Agriculture Minister; and why not?
Chana, the champion
Much more than rice and wheat, the interesting success story is that of pulses whose production is set to record a new high of 19.8 million tonnes (mt) this year (2013-14), markedly higher than the record 18.4 mt last year. Of this, gram or chana harvest is pegged at 9.8 mt, much higher than the season’s target of 8.7 mt and surpassing even last year’s record 8.8 mt harvest.
Rabi pulses acreage has hit a new high of 16.2 million hectares (mh) this year, nearly a million hectares higher than the previous year. Gram or chana planted is at an all-time high of 10.2 mh (9.5 mh). Chana accounts for nearly 50 per cent of the country’s total pulses production. Weather conditions have been near ideal in the last two months and chana yields are now a little over 900 kg/hectare, gradually inching towards the one-tonne-a-hectare mark.
Market arrivals in some centres have commenced and will gather momentum in the coming days. With a huge rebound in pulses production in the last two years, supplies are aplenty, augmented by imports. But clearly, pulses imports have slowed. Pulses suppliers to India – decidedly the world’s largest producer, importer and consumer – are a worried lot today. Already decelerating, pulses imports into the country are set to slow down even further in the months ahead when domestic arrival pressure builds up.
In the first nine months of fiscal 2013-14, pulses arrivals from abroad aggregated 2 mt; for the whole year, imports are projected at 2.6 mt, sharply down from 3.8 mt last year, according to Commerce Ministry data. Anecdotal evidence suggests a distinct lack of interest among Indian importers following a sense of caution, thanks to the recent currency volatility and threat of a fiscal impost. Amid the euphoria over record harvest, it is time to ensure the marketability of the record pulses crop. Logically, storage and similar administrative restrictions on pulses must be withdrawn so that dal mills and traders are able to build inventory.
Time for exports
It is equally important to open the export front. Pulses export (except for kabuli chick pea) has remained banned for nearly seven years. It is time to lift the ban and allow free exports. There needs be no apprehension of excessive exports because the world market is awash with pulses.
Given the limited absorption capacity of the overseas market, India may be able to ship out about three lakh to five lakh tonnes in the coming months. Keeping the export and import window for pulses open simultaneously will make for a really progressive foreign trade policy.
India’s record pulses crop, slowing import and prospects of exports, is sure to dominate the conversation during the upcoming Pulses Conclave organised by India Pulses and Grains Association in Goa from February 19-21.
Sharad Pawar, as the chief guest of the conclave, is sure to be delighted to inaugurate the mega event on pulses, and is likely to make some important announcements, it is widely believed.
Encouraged by the performance of India’s agriculture sector in 2013-14, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said the government will continue with the interest subvention scheme on farm loans and also raised the agriculture credit disbursal target by Rs 100,000 crore to Rs 800,000 crore in 2014-15. Expected agricultural growth of almost 4.6 per cent in 2013-14 against 1.4 per cent in 2012-13 will play a big role in helping the government reach the GDP target of 4.9 per cent in 2013-14, he said.
Presenting the interim Budget of 2014-15, Chidambaram recalled the yeoman’s service rendered by the country’s farmers in delivering record production during most of UPA’s 10-year rule. He said 10 years ago, India produced 213 million tonnes of foodgrain; in 2013-14 it is projected to touch an all-time high of 263 million tonnes.
On interest subvention, the finance minister said the government intends to continue with the scheme first introduced in 2006-07. Under the scheme, the government provides a subvention of 2 per cent and an incentive of 3 per cent for prompt payment, thus reducing the effective rate of interest on farm loans to 4 per cent. “So far, Rs 23,924 crore has been released under the scheme. I propose to continue the scheme in 2014-15,” Chidambaram said.
He said the country is proud of the performance of the agriculture sector. Foodgrain production in 2012-13 was 255.36 million tonnes and the estimate for the current year is 263 million tonnes. Production estimates of sugarcane, cotton, pulses and oil seeds all point to new highs.
Chidambaram also recalled how a bumper harvest has prompted a surge in India’s agriculture exports. Agriculture exports in 2012-13 stood at $41 billion, while imports were pegged at $20 billion. For 2013-14, Chidambaram estimated exports to cross Rs 45 billion, almost 9.5 per cent more than last year.
Some experts do not share the optimism of the finance minister. “Our calculation shows that the surplus (difference between agriculture export and import) is likely to widen in 2013-14 in comparison to the previous year. Exports in 2013-14 would be lower than the finance minister’s estimate of $45 billion, while imports will also be lower at around $18 billion,” eminent agricultural economist and chairman of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices Ashok Gulati told Business Standard.
With groundnut oil prices falling in recent months, the agriculture ministry has written to the commerce department to lift a five-year ban on bulk exports of the commodity. At present, edible oils, including groundnut, can be exported but only in small packages of five kg.
Officials said the ministry had also sought lifting of the ban on pulse export and abolishing the existing minimum export price (MEP) of onions in view of the sharp fall in wholesale market rates.
Export of all variety of pulses, except kabuli chana, was banned in 2006. It has been extended from time-to-time up to March. The onion MEP was slashed to $150 a tonne in December 2013 from $350 a tonne.
"In pulses, the commerce ministry should not renew the ban when its term expires as prices have dropped below the minimum support price (MSP) in some places," said a senior official.
He said Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had written to Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and Finance Minister P Chidambaram twice, seeking to abolish the MEP in onions. Even last month, the Department of Agriculture had pressed for abolishing the MEP on onions.
"Basically, what we are saying is that prices in these three commodities have either fallen below MSP or are ruling far below their cost of production causing hardship to farmers. Hence, some avenue should be opened immediately or else the growers will suffer," the official said.
In groundnut oil, officials said prices have dropped to their four-year low due to bumper harvest and weak demand.
In February, groundnut oil was trading in Gujarat at around Rs 1,340-1,350 for a 15-kg tin, almost 40 per cent less than the same period last year.
According to edible oil industry sources, groundnut oil production is likely to increase to 300,000 tonnes in 2013-14 compared to last three years' average production of 200,000 tonnes due to higher crushing.
The government's first advance estimate of 2013-14 farm production pegged kharif groundnut seed production at 5.6 million tonnes, a whopping 81 per cent more than 2012-13 mainly due to excellent rains in main growing regions of Gujarat.
The Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEA), too, has demanded lifting the ban on export of groundnut oil in bulk.
In pulses, officials said the wholesale price of chana is ruling much below its 2013-14 MSP of Rs 3,100 a quintal in some cities.
In onion, the monthly wholesale rates on an average across India have dropped from Rs 39 a kg in August 2013 to Rs 14 in February this year, a decline of 64 per cent.
New agricultural trade agreements inked between India and Alberta last week are set to open new doors for provincial producers in 2014.
Premier Alison Redford signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the states of Meghalaya and Punjab, India, that will provide new opportunities for Alberta agricultural producers. The MOU supports an immediate increase in the sale of livestock genetics from Alberta to Meghalaya and facilitates further trade and co-operation on food processing and safety and on products such as canola, pulses and agriculture machinery.
“I’m excited about them. The point is, we’re an export nation. Any time we can find some new markets for our products it’s worthwhile,” said Little Bow MLA Ian Donovan, who also serves as the Wildrose Alliance Party’s ag critic. “We have to do that as a trading nation; we’re a leader in Canada with our grains out of this province.”
The MOU will allow a smooth flow of Alberta agrifood products to India, including, but not limited to, swine genetics. It will also create an agricultural working group which will meet on a regular basis to discuss further trade and co-operation on products such as canola, pulses and agriculture machinery.
“It was basically an agricultural agreement, a memorandum of understanding,” said Donovan. “There’s lots to be sorted out through it yet, but to me it’s a positive first step. We need to look at where the markets are and where the people are that want our products.”
The Punjab MOU focuses on aspects of agriculture and animal genetics which will help increase trade in the areas of dairy production and swine genetics, and establish an Agricultural Working Group (AWG) to encourage communication on projects of importance.
India represents a market of more than one billion people and is one of the world’s fastest growing economies. It is already Canada’s largest market for pulses.
(dry beans, chickpeas and lentils) as well as the world’s largest consumer and importer of pulses.
“India has 40 million people in the area they were just in, and that memorandum of understanding has opened up a whole new market and positioned Alberta and her products. I think it’s positive,” said Donovan.
Redford has also opened a new trade office in New Delhi to expand trade and commerce, and support cultural ties between Alberta and India.
Alberta and India benefit from a long-standing relationship in trade and investment, and a new trade office in New Delhi will play a critical role in continuing to build this relationship by providing on-the-ground resources and connecting Alberta and India companies.
Alberta’s exports to India have averaged more than $102 million per year in areas that include agriculture, aerospace, engineering, education, and information and communications technology sectors.
The Agriculture Ministry will soon move a Cabinet note for lifting the 8-year long ban on export of pulses to arrest fall in domestic prices that are ruling below the MSP level on expectations of higher output.
Export of pulses, except for kabuli chana, was initially prohibited for six months in 2006. It was then extended from time-to-time up to March 31, 2014.
"To protect farmers from sharp fall in domestic prices, we are soon moving a Cabinet note on lifting the export ban on pulses," a senior Agriculture Ministry official told PTI.
The ministry is mulling over allowing export of pulses without "quantitative restrictions" and placing the commodity under the open general licence category on the lines of sugar, wheat and rice, the official said.
Such a move is necessary to contain further fall in domestic pulses prices, which are ruling below the minimum support price (MSP) levels in most parts of the country on expectations of a bumper crop, the official added.
An industry body has also sought the removal of ban on pulses export to balance the domestic market prices so that with better prices farmers are encouraged to grow pulses in the coming years.
The ministry is expecting a record pulses production at 19 million tonnes in 2013-14, as against 18.45 million tonnes last year, as good monsoon in rainfed areas has boosted crop prospects.
The demand is estimated to be around 21.77 million tonnes for the same period. The gap would be met through imports. The country's annual pulses imports have normally been in the range of 3-3.5 million tonnes. Higher production is expected to bring down imports in 2013-14.
The pulses trade has reiterated its demand to lift the ban on exports, as some pulses are ruling below the minimum support price levels on higher output.
“The moment exports are allowed, the trade will get dynamic and the milling industry will stand to benefit and the market will find its balance,” said Pravin Dongre, Chairman of the Indian Pulses and Grains Association.
Further, allowing exports will give a floor to the market as prices of pulses such as chana and tur are ruling below the support levels, he said. If this trend of prices ruling below the support levels continues for another year, it may force farmers to shift to other crops such as rice, wheat or cotton, Dongre said.
The Government had allowed exports of pulses in 2001 but banned shipments, except for kabuli chana (chickpea) in 2007 after a sharp increase in prices.
However, domestic production has increased in recent years as also consumption.
“The Government should open up exports, but impose quantitative restrictions to ensure adequate domestic availability,” said Bimal Kothari, Vice-Chairman of the association. Kothari said export demand exists for pulses, such as chana, processed lentils, moong and tur from countries in West Asia and South Asia.
India is the largest producer of pulses – estimated at 19 million tonnes in 2013-14 and is also the largest consumer.
The country is expected import around 3.2 million tonnes, about 10 per cent lower than last year’s 3.5 million tonnes.
Dongre also announced that The Pulses Conclave 2014, the second edition of the global pulses and trade event, will be held in Goa from February 19 to 21. The conclave, a platform for the Indian and global stakeholders to converge and connect, will seek to refocus the attention of Indian policy makers on the sector in terms of processing, distribution, value-addition and nutritional aspects. The conclave is expected to attract over 1,000 delegates, including overseas participants.
He said the United Nations has declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses, a move that would raise the level of awareness globally on the role pulses can play in advancing health, nutrition, food security and environmental sustainability.
Pulses imports have slowed down considerably following a significant rebound in domestic production this year and softer, consumer-friendly prices.
Compared with 33.6 lakh tonnes of aggregate arrivals during 2012-13 fiscal, imports during the first six months (April-September) of the current fiscal were 14.2 lakh tonnes.
At the current pace of arrivals, total imports during the current fiscal are likely to be lower than 30 lakh tonnes. Currency movements have also played a part in slowing imports.
Rapid weakening of the rupee and its recovery subsequently, albeit partial, in 2013 caught many traders by surprise. The effect of slowing imports is clearly felt in the world market. Canadian exporters are a little worried over slower pace of shipments.
Canada is India’s largest supplier of pulses, mainly yellow pea. Expressing concern, Martin Chidwick of Agrimonde Pulse Inc, Canada, recently enquired: “What is happening in India that has seen our yellow pea shipping slip?” The answer is that chana (gram) harvest in 2013 was a record at 89 lakh tonnes against 77 lakh tonnes a year ago.
No wonder, chana prices have been ruling steady to soft in the last several months.
It is widely believed that flour made out of imported yellow pea is blended with chana flour. Anecdotal reports from traders suggest that offtake in the local market is somewhat sluggish.
Extended South-West Monsoon, excellent subsoil moisture and higher minimum support price have combined to boost rabi plantings.
According to the Weather Watch Group of the Agriculture Ministry, as of December 20, area under various rabi pulses was 126.8 lakh hectares, higher than 121.2 lakh hectares during the corresponding period a year ago.
In particular, acreage under gram or chana (desi chick pea) has increased to 87 lakh hectares against 83 lakh hectares last year. Moong plantings have also reverted to trend at about 2.3 lakh hectares.
Crop prospects appear bright on current reckoning. Rabi harvest has the potential to reach 120-125 lakh tonnes.
With kharif harvest estimated at 60 lakh tonnes, the annual production of pulses may total 180-185 lakh tonnes.
It may, however, fall slightly short of the annual target of 190 lakh tonnes.
With rebound in production and softer prices, the time is most opportune for the policymakers to open up pulses export, even if in a limited way.
Such as open door foreign trade policy (free import and export) will bring multiple spinoff benefits including providing price support to growers, utilisation of idle milling capacity and foreign exchange earning.
The Planning Commission’s working group has projected pulses demand for 2013-14 at 217.7 lakh tonnes.
However, the actual demand may turn out to be higher because of rising rural incomes, consumer-friendly prices and current low per capita consumption.
The United Nations has proclaimed 2016 as the International Year of Pulses.
The UN General Assembly voted in New York on December 21 to declare 2016 as the International Year of Pulses, providing a shot in the arm for the world’s healthiest grain foods.
“This is an extraordinary day for the global pulses industry”, declared Hakan Bahceci, President of CICILS, the Dubai headquartered apex body for the international pulses trade and industry.
Over the last two years, CICILS has been striving to ensure that pulses get the attention and recognition they deserve.
Beans, lentils, peas and chickpeas have been the cornerstone of global nutrition for centuries; and having a UN declared year will raise the awareness about pulses and the important role they can play in advancing health and nutrition, food security and environmental sustainability, he said. CICILS has set aside $1.1 million as preliminary reserve to fund activities related to the Year.
A series of national committees are being formed around the world by the members-associations of CICILS to work with growers, manufacturers, retailers, governments, NGOs as well as health and science organisations.
With rates of diabetes and obesity on the rise, the UN declared international year presents an opportunity to recognise pulses for their exceptional potential to offer nutritional wellbeing to people everywhere, Bahceci asserted.
From an Indian perspective, pulses are the most economical source of vegetable protein, especially for the poor to fight protein deficiency.
India is the world’s largest producer of pulses (18.5 million tonnes), largest importer (3.5 million tonnes) and largest consumer (22.0 million tonnes).
The total rabi sown area, as per reports received from states, during the week ending December 20th stands at 536.37 lakh hectare as compared to 507.26 lakh hectare at this time last year.
The area under pulses stands at 126.84 lakh hectare and it exceeds the normal area of 126.70 lakh hectare for the entire rabi season.
Details of the areas sown so far this year and last year are given below:
Area sown in 2013-14
Area sown in 2012-13
India's foodgrains production this year is likely to break the previous record of 259.29 million tonnes achieved in 2011-12 if weather remains favourable through the ongoing rabi season, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said today.
The country had harvested a record 259.29 million tonnes of foodgrains in the 2011-12 crop year (July-June). However, the output fell marginally to 255.36 million tonnes last year due to drought in some parts of the country.
"This year, infact, we will break the last time's record. I am confident if nature continues to be cooperative, we will break last time's record," Pawar told reporters on the sidelines of a fertiliser event here.
Pawar said the recent review of sowing of rabi (winter) crops, which is under way, shows that wheat acreage so far is much higher than it was last year.
Similarly, the sowing performance of rabi paddy, pulses, oilseeds and cotton is also good. The acreage of sugarcane is also more than last year, he added.
As per the official data, wheat has been sown in 214.07 lakh hectare till last week, up from 183.42 lakh hectares in the same period last year. Barring coarse cereals, acreage under other rabi crops remained higher than the last year.
The country grows foodgrains both in the Kharif (summer) and rabi (winter) seasons. The Kharif crops, which largely includes paddy, are being harvested now.
As kharif crops are cleared off the fields, farmers are sowing rabi crops, which has began from October onwards. Rabi crops will be ready for harvest in April 2014.
India's Food Security Act entitles 82 crore people to 5 kg of foodgrains per person a month at Rs 1-3 per kg. The country needs 62 million tonnes foodgrains a year to implement the law. Some states have started rolling out the scheme.
Amid expectations of a record rabi crop due to good monsoon rains, adequate soil moisture and a rise in the groundwater table, India is set to record self-sufficiency in pulses this year.
The first advance estimate of the ministry of agriculture for 2013-14 pegged kharif production at 6.01 million tonnes (mt), a two per cent increase compared with 5.91 mt the previous year. The India Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA) estimates production of kharif pulses at seven mt this year. "We estimate rabi pulses output to rise five-10 per cent. This year, agro climatic conditions have been very supportive, especially in major producing states such as Rajasthan," said Bimal Kothari, vice-chairman of IPGA.
"We are expecting exceptionally good rabi production of both pulses and oilseeds this year due to favourable climatic conditions. A good monsoon, followed by intermittent extended season rainfalls, turned the climate in favour of pulses. India is moving gradually ahead to become self-sufficient in terms of pulses this year. However, the actual output would determine trade," said Ashok Gulati, chairman of the Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices, which decides the minimum support price (MSP) for agriculture commodities. The rabi season accounts for about 70 per cent of India's pulses production. Against an estimated overall production of 18.45 mt in 2012-13, India's annual pulses consumption stands at 20 mt; the deficit is bridged through imports.
A substantial rise in the MSP for pulses helped farmers increase acreage for the crop. Two years ago, the government had raised the MSP for tur and urad to Rs 4,300 a quintal from Rs 3,200 and Rs 3,300 a quintal, respectively. This year, the MSP for moong was raised from Rs 3,500 a quintal to Rs 4,500 a quintal.
This year, kharif pulses acreage surged to 10.2 million hectares, compared with 8.8 million hectares last year. It is expected the rabi acreage would stand at a record high this year.
Due to the recent appreciation of the rupee against the dollar, the import of pulses has slowed. With an estimated 10 per cent increase in domestic output, India would comfortably meet its demand of 20 mt. "To maintain a fair trade balance, the government must allow the export of pulses. While imports are allowed, exports are banned. This is an unfair trade practice that should be stopped immediately," Gulati said.
This year, the harvesting of kharif pulses and the sowing of the rabi crop have progressed well so far. Despite the prices of chana, the largest rabi crop, being lower than the MSP through most of this year, it is expected farmers would aggressively increase the acreage for this crop this season, as chana is grown in small and marginal land, which is unfit for other crops.
Do you know that when we eat a dosa or idli from anywhere in Maharashtra, there is 90 per cent chance that the urad dal in them came from mutation breeding, a promising technology developed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Trombay.
Since we import 40 per cent oilseeds and 20 per cent pulses, BARC focused its attention primarily on these crops. Heritable mutations of genes occur spontaneously in all living beings; but their rates are extremely low — of the order of one in a million. Isolating living organisms with beneficial characteristics from nature and multiplying them by selective breeding is a very slow process.
Scientists speed up the mutation rate a thousand fold by exposing seeds or in some instances parts of the plant to ionising radiation. Breeders produce plants from these irradiated seeds. They combine plants with different desirable characteristics to develop high yielding, early maturing and disease resistant plants.
Pigeon pea and mung bean suffer viral attacks; soya beans are hit by bacteria; drought and salinity affect pulses and oil seeds; some plants are sensitive to temperature.
Pre-harvest sprouting and in situ germination are other worrying conditions. Scientists have overcome most of these adversities by genetic manipulation.
They can improve the quality and nutritional content of oil seeds and the bread making quality of wheat.
Wheat plant can be made heat tolerant and resistant to stem rust. They have developed many varieties of rice. Some are early harvestable ; others salt tolerant; a few are disease resistant. Reduced height Basmati is another notable contribution.
The development of better crop plants takes time. Scientists test the improved crops at least for three years in BARC fields before they are entered for evaluation trials conducted by the agricultural universities etc. Promising new varieties are further evaluated in adaptive, district and mini-kit trials on the farmers’ fields.
BARC scientists set up linkages with farmers to produce quality breeder seeds and participate actively in Kisan Melas held in farmers’ fields to popularize the technology.
They developed 41 new crop varieties (Trombay varieties) by radiation induced mutation and cross-breeding; these have been released and officially notified by the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India for commercial cultivation.
Farmers in virtually every State benefited from the technology. It started in 1973 with Trombay Groundnut (TG-1) cultivated mainly in Gujarat and Maharashtra. Maturing in about 130-135 days, with large seeds, the crop gave a modest increase in yield of 15 to 20 per cent.
Besides high yield, early maturity and early water use efficiency, some of the Trombay groundnut varieties have fresh seed dormancy of 20-30 days thus preventing in-situ germination, a nightmare for farmers due to end of season rains when the crop is ready for harvest.
Scientists from the University of Agricultural Science and BARC produced a large seed variety of groundnut. Hundreds of farmers are producing even up to 7 tonnes/ha of some varieties of groundnuts in some States.
A drought tolerant early maturing variety and an early maturing large seed variety of groundnuts are being cultivated in large desert areas in Rajasthan.
BARC has also developed early maturing, confectionary grade, large seed groundnut seed varieties (100 seeds more than 60 grams) suitable for export.
As early as 2002-2003, the breeder seed indent for Trombay Groundnut varieties by the Department of Agriculture & Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture, stood at 932 out of 3,137 quintal (29.7 per cent) of national indent.
In an address at the Indian Nuclear Society Technical Seminar, Dr S.F. D'Souza, Associate Director listed the mutant varieties of crop plants developed at Trombay and lucidly described their socio-economic impact
The breeder seed indent for Trombay Urad bean (black gram) then stood at 93.4 quintal out of 222.05 quintal (42.06 per cent) of national indent. Farmers grew them on 5.10 lakh hectares out of 5.49 lakh hectares (about 93 per cent) in Maharashtra. Maharashtra State Seed Corporation, Akola has distributed 21,000 metric tonnes of a certified variety of black gram seeds to the farmers.
BARC developed many varieties of high yielding, disease resistant moong beans. One of them a disease-resistant, early maturing ( 55-59 days) variety for summer season made available an additional area for moong bean cultivation under crop diversity programme. Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwavidyalaya, N G Ranga Agricultural University and Indira Gandhi Krishividyalaya collaborated with BARC in some of the programmes. Currently farmers cultivate Trombay moong bean varieties over 300,000 hectares in India.
In developing and applying mutation breeding using ionising radiation, India has a leading role among all nations.
Many varieties of mutant crops cultivated on tens of thousands of hectares enhance income in rural areas, contribute to environmentally sustainable food security and improve human nutrition in India.
The Cabinet is likely to consider this Friday a proposal to extend stock holding limit on pulses, edible oils and oilseeds for one more year to ensure their availability and check prices.
The validity of the current stock holding limits order with respect to these items is expiring on September 30.
"The Cabinet meeting is scheduled on September 20. The proposal to extend the validity of stock holding limits order is on the agenda," an highly placed source said.
The proposal moved by the Food and Consumer Affairs Ministry has recommended extension of stock holding limits order on pulses, edible oils and oilseeds for one more year till September 30, 2014.
The objective of the Central order is to enable state governments to continue taking effective de-hoarding operations under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 by fixing stock limits.
The stock holding limit has helped in controlling prices of pulses and edible oils in various parts of the country. For instance in the national capital, retail price of gram, tur and urad have come down by upto Rs 15 per kg in the last one year.
Presently, retail prices of various pulses in Delhi are ruling in range of Rs 54-79 per kg, while prices stood in the range of Rs 62-78 per kg in the year-ago period.
Groundnut oil at present is available at Rs 167 per kg and mustard oil at Rs 100 per kg.
The country is dependent on import of pulses and edibles oils to meet domestic shortages. Production of these two commodities are expected to be higher in the kharif season of the current year due to strong monsoon.
After having come down from record high prices last year, the prices of pulses could come under further pressure this year, thanks to hopes of a better kharif production.
But there is a caveat. The drop in prices will depend on the impact that the hike in diesel prices will make on the overall production costs of farmers.
The South-West monsoon has been well-spread this year, resulting in production of pulses rising by nearly 20 per cent.
Estimates made by various quarters put the production around 70 lakh tonnes compared with 59 lakh tonnes a year ago.
Kharif production accounts for 35 per cent of the annual pulses production in the country.
Tur, urad and moong are the major pulses grown in kharif season. Kharif pulses production hit a record 71.2 lakh tonnes in 2010-11.
The area under kharif pulses has increased substantially this year to 99.6 lakh hectares against 85.3 lakh hectares last year. But, it is lower than the normal area of 110 lakh hectares.
Pravin Dongre, Chairman, Indian Pulses and Grains Association, says that pulses coverage this year has been higher and expectations are that the output would touch 65 lakh tonnes-70 lakh tonnes, depending on the yield.
He also says when the final figures on sowing come out, the acreage could be above the normal coverage.
The National Collateral Management Services Ltd, which runs a commodity and risk management services, however, sees pulses production being hit by floods in some parts of the country, especially Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
On the other side, pulses acreage has gained this year on account of the Government’s efforts to boost domestic production through higher minimum support prices.
The support price for tur has been raised to Rs 4,350 a quintal from Rs 3,850 last year.
In the last two years, the support prices have been raised by over 30 per cent for all pulses.
The pulses and grains body sees a record output for the whole year at 184.50 lakh tonnes against the previous one of 182.4 lakh tonnes in 2010-11.
The higher production could also result in lower imports of pulses. Indian is the highest producer, consumer and importer in the world.
“Imports could drop to 30 lakh tonnes this year. This will also be due to over 25 per cent drop in the rupee’s value since the beginning of this year,” says Dongre.
During 2012-13 fiscal, 32 lakh tonnes of pulses were imported with yellow peas making up 50 per cent.
“Unless prices drop in some origins, it is unlikely that imports will be higher,” says Dongre.
But there could some impact of the fall-out in the country, he says. “With expectation of higher output, prices may drift lower. Sadly for the farmers, the higher support price for pulses could remain only on paper,” says Dongre.
The efforts to woo farmers to grow pulses could be affected if the support prices is not ensured across the States,” he says.
A better way to handle the issue may be to bring pulses under the public distribution system, says the association.
Going by the association and trade views, a lower price for pulses could create trouble next year as growers could shift to alternative crops such as soyabean and cotton.
According to the National Collateral Management Services Ltd, production would be higher this kharif but the final outcome will depend on how the weather behaves until harvest.
Production of pulses touched an all-time high of 18.45 million tonnes in 2012-13 aided a record output of gram (chana), tur (arhar) and urad.
Latest Government estimates peg chana output at a record 8.88 mt over the previous year’s 7.70 mt.
Similarly production of tur touched a new high of 3.07 mt, marginally lower than the targeted 3.09 mt, but higher than previous year’s 2.65 mt.
Output of urad also touched a new high 1.90 mt, surpassing previous year’s 1.77 mt. However, the production of moong declined 26 per cent to 1.20 mt, from the previous year’s 1.63 mt.
The Government estimates overall foodgrain output of 255.36 mt during 2012-13, down 1.51 per cent from the previous year’s 259.29 mt. Wheat output has been pegged at 92.46 mt, down 2.55 per cent over previous year’s 94.88 mt. Cotton output was pegged at 340 lakh bales of 170 kg each, down from the previous year’s 352 lakh bales.
Maize output has also been pegged at a record high of 22.23 mt.
The agriculture department has chalked out a plan to help farmers grow new and high yielding varieties of pulses and oil seeds in the Bundelkhand region as its climate is ideal for such crops requiring minimum irrigation.
The move may help the state increase the production of pulses and oilseeds.
At present, Uttar Pradesh is highly deficient in their production and heavily dependent on imports.
Under the plan, the government will provide backward linkages to farmers in the form of subsidy, seeds and technology to encourage them to cultivate pulses and oil seeds.
“We have asked district magistrates of the districts comprising Bundelkhand to get feedback from farmers and send their report to the government about farmers’ requirements for cultivating pulses and oil seeds on a large scale,” principal secretary, agriculture, Devashish Panda told Hindustan Times.
He said once the inputs were received from DMs, the agriculture department would prepare a detailed strategy and also give a presentation on it.
“We will not only provide backward linkages to farmers, but also provide the facility of marketing the produce,” he claimed.
“The state hardly produces onefourth of its requirement of pulses and oil seeds,” said a senior official in the agriculture department.
Panda said efforts were also being made to make the national agriculture insurance policy more attractive to farmers so that they would take the risk of shifting from traditional crops to alternative ones.
“We are also trying to impress upon the Centre the need for treating a village, instead of a block, as a unit to assess damage to crops so that all affected farmers get compensation,” he said.
“Besides, National Agriculture Insurance Policy agents should approach farmers at their doorsteps as do the LIC agents.”
Higher minimum support price (MSP) and normal monsoon forecast are expected to boost oilcrop and pulses production in the country feel analsysts.
"With an intention to boost production and reduce import dependency, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) increased the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of oilseeds and pulses for 2013-14 season. Unlike the last two years, when MSP of almost all kharif crops were increased significantly considering the rising input cost, government's focus this year is to boost production of oil-crops and pulses. More than 13% increase in the MSP of largest produced oilseeds, soybean and higher returns earned last year may boost farmers to bring more area under this oil crop in the ensuing season," said Vedika Narvekar, chief manager, Angel Commodities Broking.
However, paddy witnessed a normal hike of 4.8 percent against 15.7 percent last year, while the support price of Medium staple cotton was increased by 2.7 percent against 28.5 percent last year.
"Considering normal monsoon this season, MSP has come as an incentive for the farmers which may enhance sowing of Kharif crops. But, cotton may lose acreage to more lucrative crops like oilseeds and Pulses (Tur). Higher production of these commodities would scale down the overall imports in the country. The ultimate outcome of Kharif crops may however depend on the monsoon progress and distribution of rainfall. Below normal rains last year has adversely impacted productivity in 2012-13 season leading to supply tightness. But, early arrival of monsoon and a brisk beginning to sowing may ensure timely harvesting of kharif crops thereby easing supplies in the coming season," said Vedika.
"Rainfall activities, which have been very good so far in most parts of India, are going to help the sowing activities of the Kharif crops. July and August months too remain critical as too much excess or deficient rains could hamper the productivity of the sown crops. Situation as of now is however conducive for a good Kharif production and increasing the MSP could raise the crop area further," said Mr Ajitesh Mullick, assistant vice president (retail reseacrh), Religare Securities.
Moong is expected to turn bearish due to rise in arrivals and weak demand for pulses.
Rise in arrival of the summer crop and weak demand have dragged moong prices in the past one week by almost Rs 300 a quintal.
On Friday, moong (best) ruled at Rs 5,200-5,300, while moong (medium) at Rs 4,700-4,800 a quintal.
With steady rise in arrivals, bearish sentiment will likely to continue in moong in the coming days.
Moong dal remained unchanged with moong dal (medium) being quoted at Rs 6,600-6,700 , moong dal (bold) at Rs 7,300-7,400 while moong mongar ruled at Rs 7,400-7,500 a quintal.
Sluggish trend continued in pulses and pulse seeds on weak offtake.
Poor buying support and demand dragged masoor (bold) prices on Friday to Rs 4,100-50 (down Rs 50), while masoor (medium) ruled at Rs 3,700-3,800 a quintal.
Despite poor domestic crop, masoor is ruling sluggish on poor demand and arrival of imported masoor in large quantity.
Masoor dal (average) was at Rs 4,600-25 (Rs 4,650-75), masoor dal (medium) declined to Rs 4,700-25 ((Rs 4,750-75), while masoor dal (bold) ruled at Rs 4,825-50 (Rs 4.850-75).
Urad and its dal also ruled steady on subdued buying support with urad (bold) at Rs 3,400-50 while urad (medium) ruled at Rs 3,000-3,200. Urad dal remained unchanged with urad dal (medium) being quoted at Rs 4,000-4,100, urad dal (bold) at Rs 4,500-4,600, while urad mongar ruled at Rs 5,600-5,900 a quintal respectively.
The agriculture officials in the region are encouraging farmers to increase area under pulses cultivation in the kharif season that begins next month. Maharashtra is a leading producer of pulses with Vidarbha region especially contributing generously to tur, chana, moong and urad dal cultivation.
"We want the state to maintain it top position in pulses," said JC Bhutada, Nagpur division joint director of agriculture. "If farmers increase area under tur, it will be a win-win situation for them. This is because tur is commanding a good rate of around Rs 4000 a quintal," said the officer. He is expecting more and more farmers to adopt intercropping of tur with cotton crop this year looking to the better income.
"With growing incomes in the countryside as well as urban centres, the demand for pulses is on the rise. As domestic production is grossly inadequate, the country depends on costly exports. To mitigate this situation to some extent, we are promoting pulses production," said Bhutada. Even paddy growers would be advised to plant tur on bunds of paddy fields, he added.
Meanwhile, in paddy there would be stress of use of hybrid seeds which give at least 30 % more yield, said Bhutada. According to him use of hybrid seeds in paddy is less than 1%. "We intend to raise it to 5% this year. Along with Syri (system of rice intensification) method that has been adopted few years ago from Madagascar, there is great scope for increasing rice production," he explained. The Syri method brings down by 80% the use of seeds but increases yield by one-and-half times," he explained. While cotton and soyabean are grown in little over 10 lakh hectares, paddy is taken up in 7.80 lakh hectares in the six districts of Nagpur division.
In Amravati division, the total area under kharif is normally much more- in the range of 32 lakh hectares. "This year we are expecting the area to go up by another 65,000 hectares," said Amravati division joint director of agriculture Ashok Lokhande. Much of the increase would be in soyabean and pulses, he added. "In cotton, from last year's 10.62 lakh hectares, there could be slight shrinkage to 10.50 lakh hectares, soya may go up from 12.48 lakh ha to 12.60. We expect a significant increase in tur and other pulses from 3.80 lakh ha to 4.40 lakh ha," said Lokhande.
Aggregate world production of major pulses covering field pea, dry bean, lentil and chick pea is expected to slightly improve in 2013-14 compared with the current year, according to experts participating at the International Pulse Trade and Industries Confederation annual convention here.
During a discussion on world pulse demand and supply outlook, field pea production for 2013-14 was estimated at 10.8 million tonnes (9.9 mt) with major origins Canada, Russia, France, United States and Australia producing more. World dry bean production was estimated at 21.3 mt (21.2 mt) with improved output in China and Brazil, but lower in the US.
However, world lentil production is projected to be slightly lower at 3.67 mt (3.73 mt).
In case of chick pea (desi), production is seen up at 9.7 mt from 9.4 mt. in 2012-13 following a huge spurt in Pakistan crop.
While lentil prices are expected to remain firm given the supply shortfall and firm demand, many speakers forecast firm and rising prices for all pulses during the year.
However, data suggest that the market is going to be fairly balanced and therefore prices are likely to stay more range-bound, according to others.
India, mover and shaker of the world pulses market, has set a production target of 19 mt for 2013-14 compared with estimated production of 17.6 mt in 2012-13.
Several measures to boost output have been initiated.
Timely onset and steady progress of South-West monsoon – June to September – will be a key driver of market sentiment.
Monsoon rains during the week ended August 29, being the best in the 2012 southwest monsoon season, pushed up sowing of paddy, pulses and coarse cereals, but failed to have a similar impact on oilseeds.
Officials said if the rainfall intensity remains at the current levels in the coming weeks, more area will come under coarse cereals, pulses and short-duration paddy, but not much change is expected in oilseeds.
“The last burst in oilseeds (sowing) came only because of a sudden change in the rainfall scenario in August, or else we would have been looking at a much-bleaker overall kharif crop situation,” a senior government official said.
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the southwest monsoon during the week that ended on August 29 was around six per cent above normal, by far its best performance in the current season.
The heavy showers not only lowered the overall rainfall deficiency across the country to just 12 per cent of long-period average (LPA), but also caused normal showers in hitherto deficient areas of West Rajasthan. The rainfall situation also improved in parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab and Haryana which have been seeing an acute shortage of rain. The situation in parts of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka, though better than July, still continued to be grim. “The late surge in rains might not fully compensate for the delayed onset and week performance of southwest monsoon in the first two months. At best, it could prevent the crop from withering away and fill the empty reservoirs,” another official said. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) last week said India’s rice production during the current kharif season is expected to fall by six per cent against last year at 98.5 million tonnes.
Water levels in 84 major reservoirs across the country, too, improved because of the rains. According to the Central Water Commission (CWC), water level in the reservoirs was at 61 per cent of full reservoir level, much more than the 16 per cent seen in June end.
Till last Friday, kharif crops have been sown in around 95.43 million hectares, 660,000 hectares less than the normal sowing area (the average of last five years) during the same time of corresponding year.
In paddy, the acreage was 4.5 per cent more than the normal area, while for coarse cereals it was 14.6 per cent less than normal. In pulses, it was just 1.4 per cent less than normal. In cotton, though, the total acreage was around 5.53 per cent more than normal as good rains boosted planting.
A field day on Foundation Seed Production of Co 6 Green gram variety was held at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) last week.
Seed growers, farmers, scientists and researchers numbering around 100 participated in the event.
Acting Vice-Chancellor and Registrar of TNAU P. Subbian interacted with farmers and highlighted the advantages of growing Co 6 green gram. Pulses production in India was far less than the domestic demand, estimated at 18-19 million tonnes annually, he said.
‘India produces only 13-15 mt. To meet the supply shortfall, around 3-4 mt are being imported every year.
It is estimated that by 2030, domestic demand could surge to 32 mt.
To meet this future demand, pulses production should increase at least by over 4 per cent, which means the current average productivity of 637 kg/hectare should double to over 1,365 kg/ha.
TNAU, under the National Agricultural Development Project is involved in enhancing both quality seeds as also production of pulses.
“It is proposed to produce around 100 tonnes of pulses seeds so as to meet the seed requirement of the State under this programme,” Subbian said.
He distributed inputs such as breeder seeds, fertilisers and pesticides to the contractual farmers.
Special Officer at the TNAU Seed Centre M. Bhaskaran said the Co 6 variety, despite its multiple advantages was less popular among pulses growers.
The aim of the programme was therefore to promote and popularise the variety.
TNAU is implementing the seed production programme by roping in farmers on contract basis to produce foundation seeds in seed supply chain and distribute certified seeds to the farmers.
In additional to technical support, the contractual farmers were provided with inputs totalling Rs 10,000 (including cultivation expenses of Rs 2,500) a hectare.
As per the agreement, the harvested seeds would be procured by the farm varsity at Rs 65/kilogram of redgram, blackgram and greengram, Rs 53/kg of cowpea and Rs 38 for one kg of horsegram.
TNAU experts said the State’s annual requirement of pulses was estimated at around 7 lakh tonnes, but current production in the State was less than 2 lakh tonnes.
The Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) is running an ambitious project of technology demonstrations of some pulses to encourage its cultivation in the country. The project involves increasing the productivity of pulses suitable to specific agro-climatic regions and districts, and adoption by local farmers in both mono-cropping and intercropping systems.
In Vidarbha, the demonstrations have yielded an increase of 10-30% in different pulses in different districts.
The project, which is underway since 2010-11, is expected to continue till 2012-13 in 11 states and 137 districts in the country. It is being implemented by the state agriculture universities (SAUs) and the Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) in the country. In Vidarbha, the demonstrations have shown a 10-20% increase in the production of pulses.
The director of the Akola-based Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth (PDKV), Vijay Mahorkar said that the project was a part of the 'technology demonstration of harnessing pulse productivity' programme of ICAR. "In 2010 the country had produced 14.7 million tons of pulses whereas the requirement is 18.33 million tons. India needs to increase the pulses yield by at least 2 million tons more in the next 2-3 year," he said.
The project in Vidarbha is being run in two districts - Yavatmal and Wardha - with the support of the two KVKs. Production here has shown an increase of 10-20% in different pulses in both, kharif and rabi seasons as compared to the production levels using conventional methods. In kharif, the main pulse is pigeon pea or tur and in rabi the main pulse is chickpea or black & green gram.
Pramod Yadgirwar, senior scientist and project coordinator of Yavatmal KVK, said that the zonal project directorate at Hyderabad has allocated Rs3.2 lakh for three years for the district for 30 farmers. ''Farmers are pretty impressed and many of them have already begun to adopt the chickpea variety like Jaki-9218 and it has resulted in an increase from 14.22 to 17 quintals per hectare," he said.
Project coordinator at Wardha KVK, Suresh Newade said that BSMR variety of pigeon pea had resulted in an increase of 13-15%. "We have taught them all the practices including seed treatment, use of biofertilisers etc. They are switching to pulses gradually," he said.
The Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices (CACP) has lowered its suggested support price for moong and tur by up to Rs 150 to Rs 4,400 a quintal and Rs 3,850/quintal, respectively, for this year.
The prices recommended for the two pulses are lower by Rs 100-150 per quintal from its earlier proposal for the 2012-13 crop year (July-June), but higher by up to Rs 900 a quintal than the price that prevailed last year.
For the 2011-12 crop year, the government had fixed MSP of moong (green gram) at Rs 3,500 a quintal and tur (pigeon pea) at Rs 3,200 a quintal.
According to sources, the CACP has reworked on the MSP of moong and tur as the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in the last month had defferred the decision and directed the Agriculture Ministry to redo the calculations.
In its revised recommendations, the CACP has lowered the support price by Rs 100-150 a quintal from its earlier proposal. Earlier, the CACP had recommended the MSP of moong at Rs 4,500/quintal and tur at Rs 4,000/quintal for 2012-13, they said.
The CACP advises the government on farm pricing policy. As pulses being short in supply, the CCEA had asked to rework the MSP of moong and tur on lower side to keep retail prices under control.
India imports pulses to meet the domestic production shortfall of 3-4 million tonne. Pulses output stagnated at around 15 million tonne for some time, but crossed 17 million tonne in the last two years, due to hike in support price.
AHMEDABAD: Four new varieties of pulses developed at Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University (CCSHAU) Hisar have been released for cultivation. These varieties are high yielding as well as resistant to insects and diseases. The central sub-committee on crop standard, notification and release of varieties for agricultural crops released and notified four pulse crops varieties developed at the university. The varieties include MH-421 of mungbean, UH 04-06 (Haryana Urd-1) of urdbean, HFP-529 of fieldpea and Haryana Kabuli Chana-4 (HK-4) of chickpea (gram). Apart from giving high yields these varieties were resistant to various diseases and other biotic and abiotic stresses. "Whereas mungbean and urdban varieties had been released for cultivation in Haryana state, the varieties of chieckpea and fieldpea released for north-east and north west plain zones, respectively", said the univeristy Vice-Chancellor, Dr K S Khokhar. Enumerating the characteristics of these varieties, CCSHAU director of research, Dr RP Narwal said that HK-4 variety of chickpea was bold seeded (32g/100 seeds) having extremely good cooking quality. These qualities would fetch higher market price to the farmers. Besides it was high yielding and resistant to wilt- the major disease of gram. It was highly suitable for cultivation in Haryana State also. Likewise, mungbean variety MH-421 was also high yielding and resistant to mungbean yellow mosaic virus. Being early maturing ( 60 days) this variety was suitable under rice-wheat rotation. The farmers would harvest an average yield of 10-12 q/ha under this cropping system, he said. Since its seeds were of medium size, the farmers would be offered higher market price than the bold seeded popular spring/summer variety, he added. Dr. Narwal said that HFP-529 variety of fieldpea was a high yielding, early maturing dwarf variety with wide adaptability. It was tolerant to powdery mildew and showed better resistance to rust and ascochyta blight diseases. It was also moderately resistant to pod borers which caused immense loss to the crop, he said. He said UH-04-06 variety of urdbean was high yielding, early maturing and resistant to yellow mosaic virus. Its seed were vary attractive.