Why pulse production in India needs better incentives

Productivity of released varieties of pulses is much lower than the notified variety of lower-yielding ones 

By GS Kaushal
Published: Thursday 09 September 2021
The production of pulses needs better incentives in India from the Union government. Photo: WIkimedia Commons

When it comes to pulses, India stands out: The country produces a quarter of all pulses in the world and consumes 27 per cent — more than any other.

India is also the largest importer of pulses. Madhya Pradesh is a major pulse-producing state in the country; it caters to 32 per cent of the country’s total production.

A large number of pulses are grown across multiple agro-climatic zones:

  • Kharif: Arhar (pigeonpea ); urad (black gram); moong (green gram); barbati (cow pea), lathyrus
  • Rabi: gram; pea; ramjash masoor (lentil) 
  • Zaid (summer): urad; moong; cow pea

The varietal development programme of pulses was strengthened by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in 1967 under All India Co-ordinate Research Improvement Programme.

The productivity of a crop variety depends on its suitability to agro-climatic conditions. Accordingly, varieties are developed for these zones under the program.

The average productivity per hectare of various pulses at the national level is:

  • Moong: 414 kg / hectare (kharif), 577 kg / hectare (zaid)
  • Urad: 519 kg / hectare (Kharif), 745 kg / hectare (zaid)
  • Arhar: 725 kg / hectare
  • Moth: 382 kg / hectare
  • Chick pea: 932 kg / hectare
  • Peas and beans: 940 kg / hectare
  • Lathyrus: 776 kg / hectare

The average yield of all pulses is about 660 kg / hectare compared to the world average of 909 kg / hectare.

Surprisingly, the average yield of Beharin is 18,485 kg / hectare, the highest in the world. It is obvious that there is a vast scope to increase the yield. 

There are numerous agricultural universities, research stations and national / international centres in the country for development of new, high-yielding varieties with pest and disease resistance. Yet, the production is not very high.

The profiles of crop varieties indicate the state of affair.

The Union government released 54 varieties of pigeon pea for cultivation during 1976-2018. The state agriculture department released about 36 varieties of the same between 2007 and 2018. 

The higher yielding varieties are:

  • Bahar (1986) 20-25 Q / hectare, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh
  • Pusa855 {1993} 24-25 Q / hectare, NWPZ
  • Pusa 9 22 {1993}-26 Q / hectare, NWPZ

Of the 90 varieties released by the Union and state government, only a few have met the production requirement. Country and state-wise average productivity is 652 kg / hectare in Andhra Pradesh; Gujarat 1,109 kg / hectare in Gujarat; 712 kg / hectare in Karnataka; 620 kg / hectare in Madhya Pradesh; 921 kg / hectare in Maharashtra and 888 kg / hectare in Uttar Pradesh are also much below the potential of released varieties. It shows that speculated potential by scientist has not been achieved.


The Union government released 133 varieties (1978-2021); state government notified 61 varieties (2007-2021). Total notified varieties available are 194.

Higher yielding varieties are GNG 1958 (2013) with yield 26-27Q / hectare under irrigated conditions. There are a large number of varieties having a high yield potential above 15 Q / hectare.

Most high-yielding varieties released by the Government of India are suitable for irrigated conditions with longer maturity period. On the contrary, most state varieties are suitable for rain-fed conditions.

In general, gram is supposed to be grown under unirrigated conditions.

Kabuli chana mostly used for chola (vegetable) also has export potential. Despite that, there are only a few varieties. The Union and state government each notified seven varieties.

Low yielding 12-13 Q / hectare variety is sweta ICCV2 {1993}.

ICCV 32 (1985) has higher yield of 24-26 Q / hectare. In contrast to central varieties, the state varieties have higher yield potential i.e.16-17 to 25-26 Q / hectares, except raj vijay (151) 12 Q / hectare and pant kabuli chana 14-15 Q / hectare. 

Dollar chana is very popular in Madhya Pradesh. Research institutions have so far not developed any comparable variety.

Though there are a large number of high-yielding varieties for gram, average productivity at national level is 799 kg / hectare; it is 1,447 kg / hectare in Madhya Pradhesh; 976 kg / hectare in Gujarat; 937 kg / hectare in Karnataka; 872 kg / hectare in Maharashtra; 748 kg / hectare in Uttar Pradesh; 465 kg / hectare in Rajasthan.

States like MP, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, which have higher share in national production contribute with low productivity level.

Moong bean

The Union government released about 66 varieties during 1974-2020 and state government 47 varieties during 2007-2020.

The lowest yielding was Phule M2 (1992) 6.9Q / hectare and RMG 62 (1991) 7 Q / hectare.

Higher yielding varieties are ML 131 (1982) 14 Q / hectare and DGGV-2 (2014) 11-14 Q / hectare. There are about 37 varieties that have high yield potential of above 10 Q / hectare.

There are a large number of high-yield varieties, yet the country’s average production is 467 kg / hectare. It is 652 kg / hectare in AP; 526 kg / hectare in Gujarat; 552 kg / hectare in Maharashtra; 555 kg / hectare in UP; 392 kg / hectare in Rajasthan; 838 kg / hectare in Punjab; 680 kg / hectare in Jharkhand;  675 kg / hectare in Tamil Nadu; 269 kg / hectare in Chhattisgarh; 337 kg / hectare in Odisha.

A lot of area comes under cultivation in summer season in Madhya Pradesh. A figure, however, is not available. The productivity of green gram is much less than that of the lowest-yielding variety.

Urad (Black gram) 

The central government released 50 varieties between 1975 and 2020; the state government released 28 from 2007-2020. The low-yielding varieties are TPU-4 (1992), 7.5 Q / hectare; KBG 512 (1997), 7.8Q / hectare; MDU -1 (2014) 7-8 Q / hectare; ADT6 (2017)7-8 Q / hectare, KKM-1 {2017} 6-7 Q / hectare.

At least 45 varieties have productivity of more than 10 Q / hectare. The productivity at the country level is 415kg / hectare. It is 568 kg / hectare in Maharashtra; 439 kg / hectare in Uttar Pradesh; 413 kg / hectare in Rajasthan; 501 kg / hectare in Andhra Pradesh; 507 kg / hectare in Karnataka; 351 Q / hectare in Madhya Pradesh.


The Union released about 50 varieties (1982-2021) and state government 22 varieties (2007 to 2021). Most varieties have higher productivity, ie, 15-25 Q / hectare, even then average productivity at country level is 633 kg / hectare. It is 703 kg / hectare in Bihar; 715 kg / hectare in Uttar Pradesh.

Very limited varieties are notified for other pulse crops.

Analysis of various released varieties clearly indicates that productivity is much lower than the notified variety of lower-yielding one at country and state levels. It indicates that varieties are not performing at the field level.

It requires detailed analysis by ICAR. The Government of India provides incentive for production and distribution to variety, which is notified within 10 years. There are other varieties like Asha (1993) for Arhar, which is 27 years old.

This variety is popular among the farmers of MP, Assam, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Karnataka. Similarly, moong variety  K 851 (1982) after 39 years of release remains popular in Assam, Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, MP, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.

Urad T-9 (1975), after 46 years of release, is popular in Bihar, Chattisgarh, Gujrat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Rajasthan and UP.

But these varieties have not been getting any incentives from the government. Producer farmers have also developed high-yielding varieties. In case of Arhar, farmers sell their own varieties at Rs 500 / kg, but do not get any financial or other incentives.

Views expressed are the author’s own and don’t necessarily reflect those of Down To Earth

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