The prices of pulses have hit a new high, with the two important dal prices rising by 31.5 percent in the last one month. This is alarming news because if essential dal prices hit ₹170 and ₹196 a kg, it will be unaffordable for the poor. The problem of pulses production in India has been a long standing one and has affected the nutrition of the poorer sections. Thus despite India’s rapid economic progress, India has the highest number of undernourished persons. According to the Economic Survey 2016, there are 194.6 million undernourished persons in India. Also, with poverty level at 27 percent, there are many malnourished children, and 39 per centchildren are stunted.
One main source of nourishment for the people below the poverty line, especially children, are pulses that contain 23 percent protein. While India is the biggest producer of pulses in the world, there is a big gap between the supply and demand. India’s production was 17.06 million metric tonnes in 2015-16 and the demand is at 23.5 million MT. India imports pulses from Canada, Myanmar, Australia and Africa to bridge the gap.
India imported 5.5 million MT in 2015 and yellow peas accounted for 40 percent of pulses imports. This year, according to Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, India is likely to import 6.5 million MT to prevent further price rise.