Centre promoting pulses cultivation, says agriculture minister

New Delhi: The BJP-led NDA government has taken a number of steps since taking office to boost the production of pulses, such as expanding the National Food Security Mission (NFSM) from 16 to 29 states, Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said on Thursday. The availability of pulses per capita has declined to 15.3 kg per year in comparison to 22.1 kg per year in 2013, said an official press release, citing the minister speaking here at a meeting of the consultative committee related to the National Food Security Mission.  Up to 2013-14, under NFSM the programmes related to pulses were implemented in 468 districts in 16 states, Radha Mohan Singh said. "The NDA government expanded this mission to North-Eastern states, hilly states, Kerala as well as Goa. Under NFSM the pulses programme is being conducted in 638 districts of 29 states," he said.  During 2016-17 under NFSM a sum of Rs 1100 crore has been earmarked as the central share for pulses programmes out of the entire allocation of Rs 1700 crore, he said. Whereas the country has been self dependent in wheat and rice, the real challenge is to produce enough oilseeds and pulses to meet the domestic demand, the minister said. According to the third advance estimate, the total production of foodgrains in 2015-16 was 252.23 million tonnes, which is a bit more than the output of 252.02 million tonnes recorded in 2014-15, he said. The target for 2016-17 is 270.10 million tonnes.  The minister said India produces only half of about the 23 million tonnes of edible oils that it requires, making it heavily reliant on imports.  Keeping this in view, the government is implementing the National Oilseeds and Oil Palm project. The minister also informed members that recently the customs duty has been increased on the import of edible oils so that domestic oilseeds producers are encouraged.  Members of Parliament Chandrapal Singh Yadav, Sanjay Shamrao Dhotre, Chintaman Navsha Wanaga and Rodmal Nagar (all Bharatiya Janata Party), G. Hari (AIADMK) M.B. Rajesh (Communist Party of India-Marxist) and Tapas Mandal (Trinamool Congress) voiced concern over the seeds certification quality and the rise in prices of seeds for farmers.  They suggested that the ministry take steps for strict monitoring of seed certification and ensure that farmers receive the best hybrid quality seeds.  The minister instructed the officials to take necessary steps as per the suggestions from the members of parliament, said the release.