Indians not eating enough pulses; govt can borrow a trick from Indira Gandhi-era to boost consumption

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Published: February 24, 2020 5:03:13 PM

Even as NSO’s household consumption expenditure survey for FY18 has not been released yet, data from other sources show that the Indians are not consuming enough pulses.

The consumption increased to 22.5 mt from 18.6 million tonnes (mt) between 2013-14 and 2017-18, but plunged to 22.1 mt in 2018-19 and is expected to further fall to 20.7 mt this year.

Even as NSO’s household consumption expenditure survey for FY18 has not been released yet, data from other sources show that the Indians are not consuming enough pulses. The consumption pattern of pulses among the Indians is showing signs of flattening, The Indian Express reported citing IPGA and NSO data. Analysis of the estimated consumption of pulses including chana (chickpea), yellow peas, masur (red lentil), arhar (pigeon-pea), moong (green gram) and urad (black gram) showed that consumption of pulses is slowing, the report also said.

The consumption increased to 22.5 mt from 18.6 million tonnes (mt) between 2013-14 and 2017-18, but plunged to 22.1 mt in 2018-19 and is expected to further fall to 20.7 mt this year. “Some of that may be attributable to prices. Thus, 2015-16 and 2016-17 recorded a consumption drop alongside double-digit dal inflation. The peak consumption in 2017-18 was when prices actually dipped 20.8 per cent year-on-year”. The fall in consumption of milk and pulses is mainly on account of low incomes especially among the poorer section, agriculture economist Ashok Gulati told The Indian Express.  Such sections are generally seen to increase spend on protein-rich food items with a rise in incomes.

On ways to increase consumption, Saurabh Bhartia of the Indian Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA) told The Indian Express that a body on similar lines as the National Egg Coordination Committee to boost consumption of pulses. “The campaign they launched in the 1980s helped in positioning egg as a wholesome nutrition food. The time has come for a similar sustained drive promoting pulses as an excellent source of protein, micronutrients, and fibre that is also low-fat and cholesterol-free”, Saurabh Bhartia added. Indira Gandhi was India’s Prime Minister from January 1980 until her assassination in October 1984. Meanwhile, the food inflation was recorded at 13.63 per cent in January 2020 compared to (-) 2.24 per cent in January 2019. The food inflation has been seeing a surge since January last year when it last stood at 1.97 per cent.

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