Agri Business

Need to increase efforts to develop high-yielding varieties

Updated on: Feb 06, 2011
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Red gram also called the pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan) is commonly known as arhar or tur dal in Hindi. The crop is believed to have originated in Asia 3,000 years ago and travelled to the east Africa through the European slave trade route. The crop is produced primarily in India and mostly in areas which are rainfall-deficient and in areas where lands are degraded.

Red gram is multi-purpose crop with the grains being used for food, leaves being used for fodder while the woody stem is used as domestic firewood, thatching of roofs, fencing etc. The dry matured grain is used for preparation of Dal and the green pods or seeds are used as vegetables. Tur dal contains 20-22 per cent protein content, making it an important source of protein.

The crop, a medium to long-duration crop maturing in 150-280 days, is traditionally grown in less endowed regions of the world as an intercrop with sorghum and cotton in order to provide a cushion against income shocks arising due to failure of the main crop.

Red gram is produced in about 20 countries across the world. Global production stood at 4.1 million tonnes. India is the leading producer of this crop in the world. In the year 2008, the country produced 75 per cent of the total global production, while Myanmar produced 15 per cent. Other countries with meaningful production levels are Malawi, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

In the last couple of decades, global acreage grew by 41 per cent from 3.3 million hectares to 4.6 million hectares. During this period, global productivity has increased by about 7 per cent from about 696 kg a hectare to about 742 kg a hectare.

In addition to being the largest producer, the country is also the largest importer of red gram and accounts for about 85-90 per cent of global imports. It is estimated that about 3.1 million quintals were imported in 2007-08 by India and 90 per cent of this import was supplied by Myanmar, making it the largest exporter in the world.

Tur is an important pulse in India. The crop occupies 6.5 per cent of the total area under pulses and 5.5 per cent (ranked 6th among pulses) of the total pulse production. The crop is cultivated in an area of about 3.5 million hectares with a productivity of about 710 kg a hectare. While the area under tur cultivation has increased by about 21 per cent over the last two decades, productivity has remained low primarily on account of the crop being growing in rain-fed areas.

Tur was a major crop in Uttar Pradesh in the early 1970's. However, the advent of irrigation to this State during the green revolution period resulted in migration of farmers from cultivation of tur to paddy (which became comparatively more remunerative than tur in irrigated conditions) thus limiting red gram cultivation to semi-arid tropical regions.

Production trends

Consequently, production trends in India indicate intense fluctuations with productivity dropping by up to 25 per cent in case of severe drought conditions. Currently, major producers of tur in India are Maharashtra (35 per cent), Karnataka (16 per cent) and Uttar Pradesh contributing 11 per cent ). Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat contribute 10 per cent each These five States account for more than 80 per cent of the country's total tur production. While there is tremendous demand for tur dal in India, focus on increasing production and productivity in the country is extremely low. There is a need to significantly increase public and private efforts to develop high-yielding or drought-resistant varieties. It is essential for the Government to promote research and development to come out with drought-resistant and high-yielding varieties so as to improve domestic red gram production – which would not just reduce the demand-supply gap of pulses in the country but also improve revenue generation of farmers in rain-fed regions.

Source: YES Bank

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Published on February 07, 2011

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