India is facing a shortage of pulses. Untimely rains have caused their prices to rise by up to 64 per cent in 2014-15. Experts say we need to invest in research to produce better seeds
Why has India not achieved self-sufficiency in pulse production?
Our population is increasing and the production of pulses has not kept pace. There is a deficit of 4-5 million tonnes, which we make up by imports. In the past five years, there have been technological upgrades such as development of high-yielding variety seeds. The government has also supported us through initiatives like Accelerated Pulses Production Programme and minimum support price hike. These helped increase production, but not enough.
How severe is the seed crisis?
I agree that we are not able to produce quality seeds that our farmers require. Pulses are also riskier to grow because they are more susceptible to weather vagaries. So, private companies do not invest in seed production. However, in the past five years, we have made good progress in making seeds available to farmers.
The budget for research is declining. This year there was a 30 per cent cut.
This is an immediate problem. I hope the situation improves. We need more investment in the pulse research sector. No country is going to do research for us. We are focusing on developing varieties on the basis of agro-ecology, but budget constrains are hampering this.
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