Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Modi commends farmers for planting record pulses this kharif

Pulses are kept on display for sale in a shop at a market in Ahmedabad
Pulses are kept on display for sale in a shop at a market in Ahmedabad

The stupendous increase in sowing of pulses during the ongoing kharif season didn't escape Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s eye. During his Independence Day speech, the PM commended farmers for raising the area under pulses this season to almost 1.5 times more than last year.

Pulses prices have been one of the main concerns of the Modi government as the retail prices had dropped below Rs 100 a kg. However, farmers seem to be responding to the price signals this year. Aided by strong monsoon, pulses have been planted on 12 million hectares, the highest in more than five years.

Forecast if favourable monsoon has raised hopes that India might harvest a record 20 million tonnes of pulses in 2016-17. India might have one of the smallest gaps between pulses production and consumption in recent times, lowering the burden on imports.

Though Modi gave credit to higher minimum support price (MSP), bonus and assured procurement as being the reasons for higher acreage, a closer look at historical evidence showed that the security of assured procurement was the clincher.

The Centre had decided to buy pulses directly from farmers to create a buffer stock of around 2 million tonnes. The purchases seems to have given some semblance of assured income to farmers.

Modi also said some people have told him that use of soil health cards (SHCs) overtime had brought down cost of production by 25 per cent and improved production by 30 per cent through judicious use of fertilisers and plant chemicals.

However, most experts said that there was no scientific evidence to such claims and the Centre should conduct surveys and studies on 1,000-3,000 farmers through an independent agency to find out the exact quantum of benefit that farmer could have through SHCs.

Source: Business Standard

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