India’s surge in pulses imports: A six-year high

  • India’s pulse imports increased dramatically in fiscal 2024, rising 84% year on year to their highest level in six years.
  • Lower production levels caused India to allow duty-free imports of red lentils (Masoor) and yellow peas (Tur/Arhar), which fueled the rise in imports.

Pulses Cultivation in India

SeasonsCultivated during both the ‘Kharif’ and ‘Rabi’ seasons. Rabi pulses account for more than 60% of production.Kharif Season Pulses:Pigeon Peas (Arhar/Toor/Red Gram)Green Beans (Moong Beans)Black Matpe (Urad/Mah/Black Gram)Black Eyed Peas (Lobia)Chick Peas (Kabuli Chana)Red Kidney Beans (Rajmash)Rabi Season Pulses:Bengal Gram (Desi Chick Pea/Desi Chana)Lentils (Masoor)White Peas (Matar)
Production (2023) Approximately 27.5 million metric tonnesReported as 7.6 quintals per hectare
Area under CultivationPulses account for around 20% of the area under food grains in India.
Top Producing StatesMadhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka
Government InitiativesNational Food Security Mission (NFSM) for Pulses, Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay Sanrakshan Abhiyan (PM-AASHA) Scheme
Research and DevelopmentConducted by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in collaboration with State Agricultural Universities
GoalAim for self-sufficiency in pulse production by 2027

Pulses Import: Figures and Value

  • India imported 4.65 million metric tonnes of pulses in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2024, the highest number since fiscal 2018.
  • In terms of value, imports increased by 93% to $3.75 billion during the same time.

The Global Impact of Higher Imports

  • The increase in imports by India, the world’s largest importer, producer, and consumer of protein-rich pulses, has pushed up global prices.
  • It has also helped to reduce inventories in exporting countries like Canada, Australia, and Myanmar.

Significance of Pulses Consumption

  1. Nutritional Value:
    • Pulses are referred to as ‘poor man’s protein.
    • They contain 20-25% protein by weight, which is double the protein available in wheat and three times that of rice.
    • The WHO recommends 80 grammes of pulses per day in the diet.
  2. Environmental Sustainability:
    • Pulses have minimal carbon and water footprints, making them essential for sustainable farming.
    • The water footprint for producing one kilogramme of meat is five times that of pulses.
    • Pulses emit 0.5 kg CO2 equivalent per kilogramme, whereas beef emits 9.5 kg CO2 equivalent. 

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