The Union Government is embarking on an ambitious programme to increase pulses production in the country by expanding the area under the protein-rich crops through intercropping.

During the coming kharif season, the government has set an eye on increasing the pulses area by 4.05 lakh hectares, an official statement said on Thursday.

To achieve this, the Agriculture Ministry has proposed to distribute 20.27 lakh seed mini kits of various kharif pulses such as arhar, moong and urad to farmers. This is almost 10 times more seed mini kits distributed among the farmers in the previous kharif season, the statement said.

Under this newly-formulated strategy, high-yielding varieties of seeds available with Central seed agencies as well as those in the States will be distributed free of cost to farmers. This is expected to cost the government a sum of ₹82 crore. The seeds can be used either for intercropping or as sole crops.

Help to increase area

As per the plan, nearly 13.52 lakh mini kits of arhar having a productivity of not less than 15 quintal per hectare will be distributed for intercropping. Similarly over 4.73 lakh mini kits of moong with a productivity of not less 10 quintal per hectare and 93,805 mini seed kits of urad with similar productivity will be given away to be used as intercrops. Another 1,08,508 mini kits of urad seeds will also be distributed for planting it as sole crop, the statement said.

These new kits will help increase the area under pulses crops by 4.05 lakh hectares during the forthcoming kharif season, it said. While 187 districts in 11 States including Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Rajasthan are identified for intercropped arhar crop, moong intercropping will be done in 85 districts in nine States including Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. Urad intercropping is expected to be carried out in 60 districts in six States.

To be self-sufficient

The idea behind the pulses push is to make India self-sufficient in pulses. Even though India produced 24.42 million tonnes of pulses in 2020-21 as per the second advance estimates, it still imported around 4 lakh tonnes of arhar, 3 lakh tonnes of urad and 0.6 lakh tonnes of moong.

“This will increase the production and productivity of the three pulses of tur, moong and urad to a great extent and will play an important role in reducing the import burden,” the statement said.