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Article                                                                                              AgriTech indiA  September 2018       9

          Promoting Pulses offtake                                               2017-18 horticulture output pegged

          vIa Pds and related PolIcIes                                           at new high of 307 mt

          - G Chandrashekhar
                                                                                     orticulture   production
                                                                                 Hin the year ended June is
              y converting a                                                     pegged at 306.82 million tonnes
              necessity into a virtue,                                           (mt), up 2.05 per cent from the
          Bthe government has                                                    previous  year’s  300.64  mt,
          decided to release the large                                           according to the third advance
          inventory of procured
          pulses to different States at a                                        estimates   of   horticultural
          discounted rate for utilisation                                        production,  released  by  the
          in various welfare programs.                                           Agriculture Ministry.
            Necessity because the                                                   The   latest   projections,
          stocks continue to occupy                                              however,  are  slightly  lower
          scarce warehousing space and                                           than the 307.2 mt estimated in
          incur huge carrying costs.  are under-fed. Under-  Has Indian pulses   the  second  advance  estimates
            Also, the Centre thinks,   nutrition is pervasive and   production broken the 220   released in May this year.
          warehousing space may be   protein-deficiency stark.   lakh tonnes barrier decisively?   The production of fruits is
          needed during the upcoming   This has long-term adverse   On current reckoning, it   expected to cross 97 mt, thanks
          kharif harvest less than six   consequences on the economy   looks likely. This is similar   to  an  impressive  increase  in
          weeks away; and of course,   including lower labour   to what happened in 2010-11   the  output  of  many  fruits,
          demand for food commodities   productivity and higher   when pulses output broke the   particularly  mangoes,  which
          including pulses usually   healthcare costs.   previous 140-150 lakh tonnes   registered 9 per cent growth.
          spikes during the festival   Pulses offer the most   mark and escalated to 170-  Production  of  vegetables,   onions,  which  is  down  1.8   production, which is expected
          season that runs from August   economical vegetable protein   180 lakh tonnes level which   on the other hand, is projected   per cent at 22 mt. The highest   to go up to 31 mt from 30.5 mt
          to October.            to the vulnerable sections of   continued for four years.  to  be  close  to  180  mt,   decrease   in   production   in 2016-17.
            While the decision   the population who in fact   It is likely we are now in   marginally  up  from  2016-17.   among major vegetable crops,   An  impressive  10  per
          to liquidate the stocks   deserve to eat more protein   the next higher range of 220-  A  slight  slide  is  expected  in   however,  was  witnessed  in   cent  increase  in  dried  chilli
          is welcome, it is a half-  at affordable rates; and there   240 lakh tonnes production.   the  yield  of  major  vegetables   tomato, with output projected   production to 2.3 mt from 2.09
          hearted measure that seeks   are political gains to be had   Yet, we cannot lose sight of   such  as  potatoes,  onions  and   to  drop  by  6.6  per  cent  to   mt  in  2016-17  may  help  push
          to deal with disposal of   by including pulses under   the risk that Indian agriculture   tomatoes.  19.4  mt.  Brinjal  production  is   up  the  total  spices  output  to
          accumulated stocks in a   PDS with elections round the   is fragile and the country   The  total  area  under   expected  to  be  marginally  up   8.37  mt  from  8.12  in  the  year
          routine manner without   corner. It is unclear what’s   may be just one bad monsoon   horticulture crops was also up   at  12.83  mt  from  12.51  mt  in   before.  On  the  other  hand,  a
          taking into consideration the   holding up a rational decision.  away from a farm disaster.    2016-17.                slight dip is anticipated in the
          propensity (or otherwise) of                   So, we cannot take these   by 3.26 per cent at 25.66 million   Among fruits, citrus fruits   plantation crop output to 17.87
          States to absorb such supplies.   Harvest size  production levels for granted   hectares (mha) from 24.85 mha   output  is  expected  to  rise   mt  from  the  previous  year’s
          We have seen in the past   Although planted acreage   but work to ensure sustained   in 2016-17.  strongly to 9.6 per cent at 12.51   17.97 mt, the estimates showed.
          reluctance on the part of State   for pulses has held up quite   growth in harvest size   At   48.5   mt,   potato   mt (11.42 mt). The production   This is mainly on account of a
          governments to lap up food   admirably this kharif season   commensurate with increase   production  is  projected  to  be   drop  in  coconut  production,
          commodities offered by the   (124 lakh hectares) despite   in demand.  slightly  lower  than  48.61  mt   of  mangoes  is  projected  to   which is slated to fall to 16.23
          Centre. So, pulses this time   weak prices throughout the   Importantly, New Delhi   in  2016-17,  whereas  a  slump   grow  9  per  cent  to  21.25  mt.   mt from 16.49 mt.
          may be no different.   year, the less-than-satisfactory   has to adopt policies that   is  expected  in  the  output  of   As  is  the  case  with  banana
            Unfortunately, the lack   spatial and temporal   promote pulses consumption.
          of ‘political will’ to include   distribution of the South-West   Unfortunately, again, supplies
          pulses under the public   monsoon is likely to push the   are sought to be choked while
          distribution system as the   harvest size well below the   demand deserves a higher
          Centre’s responsibility (in   target of 89 lakh tonnes. The   push.
          addition to wheat and rice)   eventual harvest size could
          is palpable; and in some way   be closer to 80 lakh tonnes or   The writer is a policy
          it is seen as abdication of a   even a tad lower.  commentator and global agri-business
                                                              specialist. Views are personal.
          sovereign duty. In case of   Yet, given the high level
          pulses and edible oil, why   of Minimum Support Price
          pass on the choice of items   (MSP) announced for tur/
          under public distribution to   arhar and other kharif pulses,
          the States?            on current reckoning, market
                                 prices are unlikely to rise to
          Protein-rich pulses    MSP level in a hurry. This
            It is common knowledge   will force the government to
          that the country’s nutrition   continue to implement the
          status is poor. Large sections   price support operation for
          of the country’s population   the third year in a row.

          Average farm

          landholding size
          shrinks to 1.1 ha

            he  average  landholding   There were wide variations
          Tsize  of  an  household   among  States  with  respect  to
          has  shrunk  marginally  to   average  land  size  possessed
          1.1  hectare  (ha)  in  2015-16   by  agricultural  households.
          from  1.16  ha  three  years  ago,   While the States like Nagaland
          according  to  a  rural  survey   (2.1   ha),   Rajasthan   (1.9
          carried  out  by  the  National   ha)  and  Haryana  (1.7  ha)
          Bank for Agriculture and Rural   reported  higher  land  sizes
          Development (NABARD).  per  household,  average  land
            Nearly   one-thirds   of   parcel was around 0.5 Ha in the
          farmers  have  land  parcels   States like Bihar, West Bengal,
          smaller  than  1  ha,  showed  a   Tripura, Sikkim and Jammu &
          NABARD  survey  released.   Kashmir.  “The  land  sizes  are
          While  37  per  cent  of  farm   to some extent reflective of the
          households   owned   land   status of cultivator households
          parcels  of  smaller  than  0.4   and  their  farming  potential,”
          ha,  another  30  per  cent  had   the survey said.
          holdings  which  fall  between   Similarly,   agricultural
          0.41  and  1.0  ha.  Only  13  per   households  reported  higher
          cent  agricultural  households   ownership   of   livestock
          owned  landholdings  bigger   which  forms  an  important
          than 2 ha.             source of livelihood for them.
            The  survey  also  showed   Milch  animals  were  most
          only 5.2 per cent of agricultural   common  with  about  51  per
          households  in  the  country   cent  agricultural  households
          owned  a  tractor  and  1.8  per   reporting  their  ownership.
          cent  a  power  tiller.  Access  to   Small  ruminants  were  also
          drip  irrigation  and  sprinkler   present   in   considerable
          was  limited  to  1.6  per  cent   14  per  cent  of  agricultural
          and  0.8  per  cent  families   households.
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