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New Delhi : Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Rural Development, Panchayat Raj and Food Processing Industries Minister  Narendra Singh Tomar on February 10, 2021, said that India is the biggest producer and consumer of pulses in the world and it has almost achieved self-sufficiency in pulses. In the last five-six years, India has increased pulses production from 140 lakh tonnes to more than 240 lakh tonnes. In the year 2019-20, India produced 23.15 million tonnes of pulses, which is 23.62% of the world. The Minister was speaking at an international event held in Rome to celebrate World Pulses Day which he attended virtually.

Speaking about the importance of the pulses, Tomar said that as pulses are nutritious and rich in protein, they are important for the food basket, especially in a country like India which is predominantly vegetarian. Pulses have low water consumption and can be grown in dry and rain-fed areas. It improves soil fertility by conserving nitrogen in the soil reducing the need for fertilisers and therefore reducing the emission of greenhouse gases, according to a PIB release.

Tomar said that the present initiative of the Government of India to increase the production of pulses is an attempt to bridge the demand and supply gap. Since pulses fulfil the protein requirement of a large section of Indians, it will continue to be a major component of Indian agriculture. He also said, “Pulses will continue to find a place in our National Food Security Mission and other programmes as a major crop. Pulses production has increased on a largescale by targeting rice fallow areas and combining innovative technological activities and provision of essential agricultural inputs.”

Speaking about agriculture initiatives, Tomar informed that India has 86% small and marginal farmers, FPOs are being promoted for all kind of assistance to them. Government of India is going to build 10,000 new FPOs in the country with the outlay of Rs 6,850 crore in 5 years. The step will collectively enable farmers for seed production, purchase, and access to better technologies. Along with soil health, the Government of India is also giving high priority to increase water use efficiency in agriculture by promoting Per Drop-More Crop, the initiative of Prime Minister NarendraModi.

Lauding the work done by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the Minister said that through its research and development activities, ICAR has played an important role in increasing pulses production. Pulse crops research has received new direction and unprecedented work has been done towards developing new and improved species. More than 100 improved and high yielding species have been developed in 5 years. The government is focusing on improving varieties of seeds, bringing new areas under pulses cultivation and market, which will help in increasing the profit of the farmers, Tomar added.

Stressing on the importance of pulses, Tomar said that in India pulses are also distributed to about 1.25 crore Anganwadi centers under the National Nutrition Mission. During the lockdown, the government has supplied pulses-whole pulses to 80 crore people. The Minister said that despite difficulties during COVID, India has emerged as a global exporter/supplier of food items in the world.

Compared to the same period of the previous year, from April to December -2020, India recorded an increase in export of agricultural commodities including pulses with a 26% increase in pulses production, Tomar said. There has been a substantial increase in the export of medicinal plants such as Ginger, black pepper, cardamom, turmeric, etc. which are considered immunity boosters in Ayurveda. The agricultural budget of the country has been increased by more than 5 times, which is now about Rs 1.25 lakh crore.

The World Pulses Day was celebrated as per the United Nations Charter of the year 2016. Pope Francis, QU Dongyu, FAO-UN Director General, Tang Renjian, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Republic of China, Julien Denormandie, Minister of Agriculture and Food, Government of France, Minister of Agriculture, Government of Argentina, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Food System’s Summit along with other dignitaries attended the function.