The central government on Thursday urged states to promote sowing of pulses even in the Rabi (winter) season beginning October and ensure that farmers get Minimum Support Price (MSP) for the lentils.
"We need to continue encouraging farmers to grow pulses. Pulse production should be taken up also during Rabi (winter) season beginning October," Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said during a two-day conference on Rabi crops here.
Singh said farmers will not be encouraged to sow pulses in the Rabi season unless they get the MSP.
"It is for this reason, the government has started the pulses procurement operation," he said referring to the procurement of pulses that has started in a few states by official agencies.
The minister maintained that due to good monsoon in 2016, after two years of drought, the country can expect record foodgrain output during 2016-17 crop year.
The country had last achieved a record output of 265.04 million tonnes in the 2013-14 crop year but the production in 2014-15 and 2015-16 fell to 252.02 million tonnes and 253.23 million tonnes respectively owing largely to drought.
"I hope we have record production this time. Monsoon has been favourable for farm community in 2016. We have received good rains and rain distribution was also good," he said.
Singh said the government has taken several measures to improve farm productivity and farmers income during the last two years.
He said that his ministry is working to realise Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise to double the income of the farmers and make farming a remunerative profession.
Singh stressed on the need for the application of technology in farming to increase productivity. During the two-day conference, progress of important schemes related to agriculture and farmers’ welfare announced by the Centre in the last two years will be discussed.
The conference is being attended by the Ministers of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Sudarshan Bhagat and Parshottam Rupala, and the Secretary, Agriculture, S.K. Pattanayak besides state Agriculture Secretaries and other senior officials dealing with horticulture, post-harvest management and agricultural marketing.
The Centre has set a target of producing a record 270.10 million tonnes of foodgrains in 2016-17 crop year. The minister said that record pulse production is also expected as the area under cultivation during the kharif season has increased sharply by about 29-30 per cent to 143.95 lakh hectares.
Sources said government agencies have started procurement of kharif moong in Karnataka and Maharashtra at the MSP rates. Other pulses like tur and urad will also be procured once their arrival begins on a large scale.
The prices of protein-rich staples have fallen over the last few weeks by almost a quarter. Pulses inflation rose 27.5 per cent in July pushing the overall food inflation to 8.4 per cent.
Worried that the fall in the prices of moong dal would impact farmers, the central government in August had fixed the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of moong at Rs.5,275 per quintal for 2016.