Agri Commodities

Pulses: An Important and Profitable Crop

pulses importer

Pulses are edible seeds of plants from the legume family and come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), there are 11 types of pulses listed below.

  • Chickpeas
  • Dry Beans
  • Dry Broad Beans
  • Dry Peas
  • Cow Peas
  • Pigeon Peas
  • Lentils
  • Bambara Beans
  • Vetches
  • Lupins
  • Minor Pulses, that do not fall in the categories mentioned above.

These annual crops are harvested solely as dry grains, which make them different from other vegetable crops that are reaped when they are still green. These are healthy, full of nutrition, and easy to cook with.

Pulses and Health

Pulses are considered superfoods; they are low on fat and contain high amounts of soluble fiber, insoluble fiber, and slowly digestible starch. This combination of nutrients helps boost fullness as well as satiety. Their use in every day diet has been linked to the following wellness benefits:

  • Better blood sugar regulation
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.

They are important for nutrition and play a pivotal role in alleviating protein hunger in developing countries dealing with malnutrition in their population.

2016 – International Year of Pulses

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2016 as the ‘International Year of Pulses,’ recognizing the importance of pulses for health & nutrition, promotion of soil fertility, and in the context of climate change.

Pulses and Sustainable Agriculture

Growing pulses contributes to sustainable agriculture as these crops assist in reducing greenhouse gases and add to the health of the soil in which they are cultivated. They use less water resources than other crops, making their cultivation a profitable venture for farmers.

In 2014, as much as 85 million hectares of pulses were grown around the world, which has fixed around six million tonnes of nitrogen to soils globally. When pulses are grown, there is a natural slow release of nitrogen which ensures the availability of the same for the next two to three crop cycles.

The nitrogen in the soil enhances fertility and brings down the necessity of chemical fertilizers. It can also combine with specific proportions of phosphorus and sulphur to build soil carbon, improve soil resilience, ensure water availability, and enhance productivity potential.

Moreover, these are high on proteins, and contribute to the decrease in methane emissions from ruminants such as cows, thereby reducing the release of greenhouse gases.

Pulses Production Global Perspective  

The global production in 2018 was around 92.4 million MT. Between 1998 and 2018, the production increased by as much as 63 percent.

India is the largest producer, consumer and pulses importer in the world, being responsible for around 25 percent of world production, 15 percent of international trade, and 27 percent of total consumption.

India exported 296,169.83 MT of pulses to the world during the year 2020-21. The pulses importing countries from India in this period were the USA, the People’s Republic of China, Nepal, UAE, and Algeria.

Although India is the largest producer and consumer, there is still a shortfall of several million tonnes. The government of the country has been taking steps to bridge the gap though imports and encouraging farmers to grow organic pulses.  

With a little bit of planning and the adoption of the best management practices, the cultivation of these crops can be more profitable and accrue benefits to subsequent crops, reducing the costs and associated risks to the agricultural business as a whole.

According to recent studies, the rotation of certain pulse crops such as chickpea and pigeon pea can bring down the application of chemical fertilizers, thereby enhancing the output of the subsequent cultivation of paddy and wheat to a significant extent.

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