Chapter 9 - The Lentil Economy in India
Pulses are an important source of proteins, fibers, minerals, and vitamins, so they are a very important part of the human diet. Their significance in the agricultural production system lies in the fact that they are natural nitrogen fixers and help maintain soil fertility. Asia and Africa are the major producers of pulses. The share of lentils in the total pulse production has increased considerably since the 1960s. In spite of India being the second largest producer of lentils, it is also a net importer. The cost of lentil production has increased over time. The net returns on lentils are also lower than other competing crops. The domestic price of lentils has been above the international price since 2010, and the Minimum Support Prices (MSP) have remained below domestic prices. These lentil price dynamics do not favor acreage increase for the crop. To enhance domestic lentil production and productivity, targeting new niches (rice fallows), dissemination of improved production technologies, and favorable policy measures are the need of the hour.