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Pulses and Edible oil production in India

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Agricultural Produce and Issues and Related Constraints


Source: IE

 Context: As compared to edible oil, India has relatively achieved atma nirbharta (self-reliance)  in pulses.


Edible oil production in India:

 Import of edible oil by India: The quantum of imports has surged from ~8 mt to 16 mt between 2013-14 and 2022-23 (from ~$7 to 21 billion in value terms).


Govt efforts to increase edible oil production:

  • National Food Security Mission – Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NFSM-OS and OP): The government has been implementing this Centrally-sponsored scheme from 2018-19 to increase the production and productivity of oilseeds in the country.
  • National Mission on Edible Oils (Oil Palm) [NMEO (OP)]

 Concerns: The productivity (yield) gap between improved technology and farmers’ practices ranged from 21% in sesame to 149% in sunflower.


Case of pulses:

  • India is the largest producer (25% of global production), consumer (27% of world consumption) and importer (14%) of pulses in the world.
  • Though pulses are grown in both Kharif and Rabi seasons, Rabi pulses contribute more than 60% of the total production.


Import data: In quantity terms, India’s imports of pulses came down from 6.61 mt in 2016-17 to 2.52 mt in 2022-23.


Breakup of India’s imports of major pulses:

Reasons behind the reduction in pulses imports:

  • Higher domestic production: India’s pulses output has increased from ~19 mt in 2013-14 to 28 mt in 2022-23, which translates into a self-sufficiency ratio of over 90% in pulses (40% for edible oils).
  • Imports of chickpea (chana) have recorded dramatic drops: The boost to chana production came from two key government measures,
    • The first is the levy of a 60% import duty on chana since March 2018.
    • The second intervention has been government procurement at minimum support prices (MSP).
    • These incentivised Indian farmers to expand the area under the pulses crop grown during the rabi (winter-spring) season.


  • Arhar/Tur/pigeon pea is the problem: Arhar imports from Mozambique, Myanmar, Tanzania, Malawi and Sudan hit a record0.9 mt in 2022-23.
  • Implications of imports: The overall import figures have not significantly reduced as a result of the erratic production of most non-chana pulses. This may result in inflation amid worries about El Nino.


Way ahead:

  • The government must address micro-irrigation, quality seeds, marketing infrastructure and government policy issues to decrease dependency on imports.
  • Technology and market support to farmers are the key to increasing oilseed production.


Insta Links:

Agricultural exports-imports


Mains Links:

How has the emphasis on certain crops brought about changes in cropping patterns in the recent past? Elaborate the emphasis on millet production and consumption. (UPSC 2018)