Cross-posted from the FSP India website written by Bas Paris
Pulses are an essential source of protein and minerals for much of the Indian and global populations, to reflect this the UN has named 2016 as the ‘’International Year of Pulses.’ A recent IFPRI discussion paper investigates the trends and outlook for both global and regional pulse economies, looking at the supply, demand, trade, prices, and outlook of the pulse sector during the last three decades. The study covers the main pulse producing regions, namely: Europe, North America, Oceania, Africa, Latin America, and Asia using data from the FAOSTAT database complemented by national-level data. The report also provides an in-depth analysis of a selected group of pulse crops including chickpea, lentils, pigeon pea, dry beans, and dry peas.
The average share of pulses in global diets is only 5 percent of total protein consumption, but pulses’ contribution to diets at the country level is significantly higher. In the case of India, 12.7 percent of proteins in people’s diets come from pulses. Moreover, pulses contain other essential nutrients such as calcium, iron, and lysine that help the body fight vitamin and mineral deficiencies and disease. Thus, pulses can be important in fighting malnutrition. Pulses also contribute to soil fertility due to their nitrogen-fixing ability, which helps reduce the need for chemical fertilizers for crops planted on the same land.
The report provides an overview of changes over the past three decades in total pulse production, area under cultivation, and yields per hectare. Globally, pulse production increased from 44.9 million tons in 1981-1983 to 72.3 million tons in 2011-2013. The area under production increased from 63 million hectares to 80 million hectares over the same time period.
At the country level, India is the world’s largest pulse producer, accounting for 34 percent of area and 24 percent of production in pulses. Production in India increased from 10.4 million tonnes to 17.5 million tonnes from 1981-1983 to 2011-2013, mainly due to increases in the area under production from 22 million hectares to 27 million hectares. However, as population growth has grown faster than growth in pulses, the per capita availability has decreased. In 2013, India’s average yield per hectare also remained low, at 635 kilograms per hectare. One reason that yields remain low in India is because pulses are generally grown on marginal land with little access to irrigation. In total, it is estimated that only 10 to 15 percent of pulses cultivated in India have access to irrigation, while the figure is around 75 to 80 percent for wheat and rice. By comparison, Myanmar’s and Ethiopia’s yield per hectare averages 1345 and 1442 kilograms while Canada achieves the highest global yields at 2146 kilograms per hectare.
Regarding specific crops, India is the world’s largest producer for multiple pulse crops, including chickpeas (67 percent of global production), pigeon pea (63 percent of global production), and dry beans (33 percent of global production). India is also the world’s second largest producer of lentils (22 percent of global production). Simultaneously, India has a high ratio (83.6 percent) of pulses that are used for domestic consumption. Additional information on pulse developments in India is available here.
The study also analyses the global and regional pulse trade. International trade in pulses has grown significantly, from around 2 million tons of pulses in the 1970s to 12 million tons in 2011. Developed countries are the main exporters, exporting around 52 percent of production. India, by contrast, only exports 167,000 tons due to high levels of domestic consumption (but exports have grown from 1,000 tons in 1981). India is by far the biggest importer, at 3 million tons annually, up from 127,000 tons in 1981.
Global pulse prices stagnated in the 1980s and 1990s but started rising again in 2000 and rose sharply in 2006. Pulse prices are currently around 2 to 2.5 times higher than cereal prices globally. Given these price changes and the shifts in supply, it is important to better understand these trends and how they may play out in the near future.
The authors make numerous projections regarding future pulse supply and demand using the IMPACT model (International Model for Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities and Trade). Supply and demand projections for total pulses were carried out under a business-as-usual scenario in area and yield growth and these projections were carried out to 2020, 2030, and 2050 for the major pulse-growing regions.
The results indicate that Africa and Asia will face large deficits in pulse supply - close to 11 million tons in Africa in 2050 and 5.5 million tons in Asia. These findings can vary within regions, however. For example, within Asia, Eastern Asia will see a surplus, while Southern Asia will see a deficit of 9 million tons by 2050.
The paper suggests that the relatively faster increase in the food demand for pulses in Africa and Asia (Southern Asia in particular) could be attributed to faster-paced increases in their populations compared with other regions. Between 2020 and 2050, Southern Asia’s population is expected to expand by 27 percent. In addition to a growing population, other drivers of pulse demand could include the importance of pulses as a protein source for vegetarian populations, income growth for low-to-medium-income consumers, growth in urban populations and increased demand for processed pulse products, and the realization of the health benefits of pulses. Ananalysis by Kumar, Joshi, and Birthal projects that demand for pulse crops in Southern Asia (comprising India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh) will increase from 17.6 million tons in 2005 to 24 million tons by 2025. That rate of growth in demand for pulses is more than the rate projected for any cereal crop (including rice and wheat).
Supply-side constraints are the major obstacles in increasing global pulse supply. These constraints include low yields in developing countries (pulses are mainly grown in marginal areas under low-input conditions), small-scale production, lack of access to improved seeds, low seed replacement rates, weak institutional arrangements, low research priorities, and a lack of government support compared to cereals. In recent months, IFPRI has held a number of dialogues and a roundtable discussion on “Enhancing Opportunities for Increasing Production and Consumption of Pulses.” A number of recommendations for India have been suggested at these events in order to overcome some of these supply-side constraints. These include the development of area-specific pulse varieties, advancement of transgenic technologies for biotic and abiotic stress resistance, horizontal expansion of pulses in central and southern India, minimum support price policies, and increased government support.
Cross-posted from the FSP India website written by Jaspreet Aulakh
Global demand for pulses is rapidly increasing. As noted in a recent editorial, filling the demand-supply gap will be critical. For the South Asia region, pulses are traditionally important food commodities and cheap sources of protein. The region is now experiencing shortages of pulses which is causing an increase in imports. In an effort to increase consumption of pulses, a number of states have included them in the Public Distribution System and a recent IFPRI discussion paper evaluates the opportunities and constraints for including pulses in the PDS. Pulses are also emerging as the ‘future food’ in developed and many African countries. The challenge is to increase pulses production efficiently not only to meet the domestic requirement in the region but also supply for new consumers in developed and African countries.
On January 5, 2016, IFPRI held a roundtable discussion on “Enhancing Opportunities for Increasing Production and Consumption of Pulses.” This event highlighted the importance of increasing consumer awareness of the nutritious benefits of pulses, as well as integrating government efforts and filling research gaps to encourage pulse production and consumption. A second dialogue was organized on May 31 and June 1, 2016 and featured representatives from eight different countries, 48 discussions, and 104 poster presentations.
The main themes of this latest workshop touched on major aspects of the pulse sector - Global and Indian Perspective on Pulses; Pulses Production, Consumption and Environmental Services; Pulse Consumption Behaviors; Price Behavior of Pulses; Drivers of Pulses Production; Pulses, Climate Change and Eco-system Services; International Trade in Pulses; Aggregation Models for Pulses; Leveraging Markets to Increase Pulse Production; and Evidence for Market Integration in Pulses; and Value Addition for Pulses through Food Convergent Innovation. An additional session on Farmer Producer Organization for Pulses was attended by farmers from Bihar and Maharastra.
The main theme that emerged from the inaugural session was that focus should be placed improving India’s national pulse sector through the use of technology and increased government support. There is scope for India to become the world’s largest pulse-producing country, but to make this happen, research must identify ways to fit pulses into the country’s current cropping pattern and yield gaps must be addressed so that pulse price volatility can be better managed.
Shenggen Fan, Director General of IFPRI, launched the Global Food Policy Report 2016 at this event. Pulses receive special mention in the report, as they fall under stress-tolerant, environmentally friendly, and nutrient-rich protein options. Pulses also have high payoff potential if improved technologies are used (this is particularly true in the Indian states of Bihar and Odisha) they have high payoff potential with improved technologies.
Dr. Parthasarathy Rao, a former ICRISAT scientist provided an overview of pulse production, consumption, and demand, citing the Global Perspective of Pulses. According to the presentation, pulses account for 5.8 percent of the world’s arable land. In India, they account for 18 percent. Six pulse varieties contribute 80 percent of pulse production globally – drybeans (32 percent), chickpeas (17 percent), drypeas (15 percent), cowpeas (9 percent), and lentils and pigeonpeas combined (6 percent). Pulse production shows a rising trend in Asia and Africa; together, these regions account for about 67 percent of global pulse production. Global demand for pulses for use as both food and feed is also increasing for food and feed; 75 percent of pulses are consumed as food in developing countries, while 35 percent are consumed as food in developed countries. Pulses contribute 13 percent of India’s overall protein intake. In terms of production, Asia has not yet reached self-sufficiency. Canada, Myanmar, the US, Australia, and China account for 75 percent of all global pulse exports, and India is largest pulse-importing country in the world.
Pulse imports to India are mainly from Myanamar, Canada, and Africa. Raj Chandra of IFPRI showed evidence that imported pulses do have a cooling effect on the domestic prices of Indian pulses. A unitary shock in the imports at first leads to a sustained increase in prices up till 20 weeks, after which price stabilizes. Import needs to be operationalized quickly as it takes some time to have effect on prices. Canada has started branding and promoting pulses via programs focusing on the crops’ nutritional and health benefits. Lack of availability of seed was reason for low production in 2016 due to high world pulse prices. We can reduce non-renewable input use such as nitrogen phosphate and less water with the help of pulses. It was also pointed out that different pulses have very low elasticity of substitution. There should have pulse brand value instead of generic branding. Nutritional security is important in the long run.
The per capita demand for pulses is declining in India. Yet they remain a cheap and an important source of protein. On the supply side, pulses’ production had hovered around 11 and 14 million tons during the last three decades. Stagnation in production has led to rise in the prices of pulses that further affected their consumption adversely. To overcome the rising prices of pulses because of demand supply gap, their imports increased substantially to the tune of 3-4 million tons during last five years.
To better understand the pulse sector in its entirety, a one-day workshop was organized by South Asia Regional Office of International Food Policy Research Institute on “Pulses for Nutrition in India: Changing Patterns from Farm-to-Fork”, on January 14, 2014 in New Delhi, India. The workshop presented studies that covered the pulse sector from farm to fork comprehensively. All the segments of the pulses’ sector including production, consumption, price formation, international trade, processing and value addition, and innovations comprising private as well as public sector in strengthening the entire pulse value chain were presented. These studies were designed to better understand the changing dynamics in the pulses sector and explore opportunities for meeting their availability through increased production, enhanced trade and improved technical and marketing efficiency.
Traditionally in India, with relatively more focus accorded to food grains, especially rice and wheat, the pulses were relegated to marginal environments. Consequently, over the years despite many focused programs, there were only slight changes in the production of pulses. However, recent initiatives through National Food Security Mission and higher minimum support prices led to leapfrog in production to 18 million tons. However, weak technology delivery mechanisms, and continuing low profitability of the sector have failed the arrest the shifting of pulses areas to more remunerative crops.
The inaugural address for the workshop was by Dr Y K Alagh, chancellor, Central University of Gujarat who had also been the leader of government pulse initiatives in the country. In his inaugural address Dr Alagh emphasized that there is an urgent need to blend domestic price policy with tariff policy such that domestic prices of pulses stabilize and that can thereby ensure attractive returns to pulse producers. More specifically import duties on pulses needed to be calibrated to the demand and supply situation in a timely fashion.
In a session on the way forward for the pulses sector in India, Dr Ashok Gulati, chairman, Commission of Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) stressed on the need for procuring pulses under public distribution system to reduce market risk for farmers and ensure supply for their increased consumption. He cited the example of soybean as potentially the cheapest source of protein in the country and the role of pulses as a supplier of protein has to be looked in a comparative context. The scope for pulses or other sources of protein has to be looked in a situation where special interests in the dairy sector preclude the possibility of soya based products such as tofu being adopted by the large scale system of dairy cooperatives in India.
Dr John McDermott, director, CGIAR’s Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH), IFPRI stated that pulses play an important role in farming system, these improve soil fertility and can be potential source of higher income for farmers especially in dryland areas. He emphasized for creating a strong mechanism to focus on nutrition security through improved pulse value chains, and efficient processing sector. Dr Laurette Dube, founding chair and scientific director, McGill World Platform for Health and Economic Convergence, emphasized on the need for convergent innovation in pulses to increase production, income and nutritional security.
Dr P K Joshi, director, South Asia Regional Office, IFPRI concluded the workshop by adding the need for need-based technologies in pulses for favorable and marginal locations, traditional and non-traditional area, and production of commodities for import substitution and for the global markets. He also stressed on effective procurement policies of pulses, as have been initiated by Chhattisgarh and Haryana, along with effective medium and long-term trade policies to promote supply and consumption of pulses.
The workshop was attended by donors, researchers, private sector and media. The workshop was based on a studies conducted by IFPRI-South Asia Office under the CGIAR’s Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health. Check out the presentations of the workshop
Pulses are important source of protein for Indian consumers but their availability has declined from 60 grams per person in 1960 to 35 grams per person in 2010. It is because pulses production is not keeping pace with the rising demand. Growing supply-demand gap is leading to rising prices of pulses and keeping them away from the reach of the poor consumer. India is the largest producer and consumer of pulses and leading to rise in prices.
In mapping the future aspect of food and nutritional security, pulses contribute major portion in food basket. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and McGill World Platform for Health and Economic Convergence (MWP) organized a one day Multi-Stakeholder Workshop for Convergent Innovation: Pulse Partnerships as Part of Dietary Diversity and Balance Roadmap on April 15, 2013 in New Delhi. The workshop aimed to develop pulse roadmaps that targets dietary diversity, and balance of production and consumption through nutrient-rich commodity.
Participated by researchers, private sectors, philanthropic organizations and NGOs, the workshop discussed the way ahead ideas for increasing production and consumption of pulses, innovation needed in food processing, manufacturing, technologies, and weak seed market. Aspects of existing markets and value chain such as high transaction cost, and losses to farmers with low processing and poor food safety concerns were discussed. The workshop approach was to sketch a pulse outline on innovation, technology, and partnership for future food and nutritional security.
Led by MWP, the global Convergent Innovation Coalition (CIC) provides Whole of Society Approach (WoS) with the goal of developing scalable and sustainable solutions for nutrition secure future.
Moving ahead with the discussed outline to the pulse innovation, the team would follow the strategy for change through technology, policies and institution through convergence innovation concept. IFPRI and MWP propose to study India and Bangladesh on issues related to (i) developing an Inventory and systems analysis of pulse related convergent innovation; (ii) linking emerging consumer purchase pattern to business practices and (iii) economic exploration of pulse innovation potential on production and consumption