This can only be done when primary, secondary and tertiary value-addition happens for commodities that are available in large quantities.
Pulses, millets and legumes are nutritionally rich but are at low levels of production. These are the Nutri Grains and must be affordable for the lower economic strata of population.
India is a storehouse of pulses, millets, and legumes, grown across the country. This has come from hundreds of years of experience and, therefore, is time-tested. During the imperialistic rule, these Nutri Grains were labelled horse gram, pigeon peas, cow peas, etc. and considered animal feed. Some scientists refer to them as orphan crops!
Today, India imports large quantities of pulses, even though we can expand production with marginal policy changes. With a holistic approach, we can formulate coordinated action plans to make India self-sufficient. Production of pulses can be doubled by 2025. Value-addition should be the key point in the campaign to take two crops of pulses a year!
A mission for higher productivity is essential. It must also be remunerative to the farmer, which in turn will help India’s vision of doubling farmers’ incomes. Promoting any one separately will not address the issue - pulses, millets and legumes are all equally important to maintain a healthy diet.
Consumption of pulses, millets and legumes, along with fruits, vegetables and staples, will help tackle diabetes, blood pressure, cardiac diseases and improve the health of the population.
Capacity building in pulse production has to be aided by expending awareness and supporting the marketing of produce. It need not replace staple food grains and can be made to fit in with the proper rotation of crops. ICAR can lend its expertise to ensure this is properly implemented.
India can become a net exporter of pulses and the time for this is now!
(From a recent address at the MSSRF).