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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum

Re: Pulses are praised for their health, environmental and economic benefits. How can their full potential be tapped?

Pradip Dey
Pradip DeyICAR-AICRP (STCR), Indian Institute of Soil Science, BhopalIndia

Dear All,

Good day!

Pulses, mostly grown as rainfed crops, are important for protein security and soil revitalisation properties due to symbiotic nitrogen fixtion throughout the world. Major pulses include chickpea or Bengal gram (Cicer arietinum), urdbean or black gram (Vigna mungo), lentil (Lens culinaris), pigeonpea or red gram (Cajanus cajan), mungbean or green gram (Vigna radiata), lablab bean (Lablab purpureus), moth bean (Vigna aconitifolia), horse gram (Dolichos uniflorus), pea (Pisum sativum), grass pea or khesari (Lathyrus sativus), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), broad bean or faba bean (Vicia faba) and kidney bean or Rajma (Phaseolus vulgaris). Given below are seven point strategies to improve pulse production.

  • Availability of quality seeds: Availability of quality seeds of improved cultivars in a village seed bank concept will enhance the productivity.
  • Plant nutrition: Pulses generally respond very well to starter dose of nitrogen (20 kg/ha) for enhancing plant uptake when roots are small and thereby promoting early vigor. Placing phosphorusand potassium in the root zone as per STCR approch of yield tagetting based on soil test values (http://www.iiss.nic.in/downloads/stcr%20Crop%20wise%20Recommendations.pdf) will help in realising yield based on resource endowment of farmers.
  • Check runoff losses: In water scarcity areas, yield of pulses is sensitive to runoff losses. Reducing runoff through mulch and other water conservation approach to enhance the residency period of water in a parcel of land will help in improving pulse production.
  • Capacity building: Smallholder farmers, especially women, should be central to all capacity building pogramme for improving pulse production technology.
  • Disease and pest: A 2x2 approach by addressing two diseases viz., wilt and root rots and two pests pod borers and pod fly is very important.
  • Being mostly grown as rainfed crop, the high risk in production due to vulnerability to weather as well as abiotic and biotic stresses, weather-based price insurance for pulses is a must to encourage farmers to go for pulse production.
  • Encouragring PPP in pulse production and introduction of low cost dal mill in a cluster mode will be helpful.

With warm regards,

Pradip Dey