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India’s pulses demand to grow exponentially as economy set to reach $5 tonnes : DGFT

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NEW DELHI : As India imports over 3 million tonnes (mt) of pulses annually even as production has jumped substantially, the Government sees the gap between demand and supply continuing. This is even as there is a further jump in production since the requirement of protein-based food will be rising with the economic growth targetted to reach $5 trillion in next few years.

Addressing the second day of Pulses 24, a three-day global event organised by the Global Pulse Confederation (GPC) in cooperation with cooperative major Nafed in New Delhi, Director-General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) Mr. Santosh Kumar Sarangi said in 2016-17 India had produced only 17 million tonnes (mt) of pulses, but it has surged to 25-26 mt now.

But, despite this substantial growth in pulses production, India has not been able to meet the gap between demand and supply, he said. He said the Prime Minister has set an ambition of reaching $5 trillion economy in the next couple of years from current $3.7 trillion.

“Given the growth projection that we have had from IMF and our own Reserve Bank of India, it seems that a $5-trillion economy is not very far off. We should be able to do that,” Mr. Sarangi said. He said as and when India becomes the third largest economy, it will be a more prosperous country, an economy where people will have more purchasing power and this automatically means more demand for protein-based food.

“So in this context, India’s demand for wheat and wheat-products, plant-based protein, milk and dairy products, is going to exponentially increase,” Mr. Sarangi explained.

He also said that inspite of this growth in production, the rising purchasing power as well as the dietary habits of Indians, is making it imperative to meet the gap between demand and supply through higher imports.

The top official in foreign trade also said India has taken a series of steps to ensure that the protection of farmers’ interests are also calibrated and aligned with consumer interests of getting pulses at affordable rates.

“If you look at our pulses import, we have been importing in the range of 2.5 mt to 3 mt of pulses every year in the last couple of years. In the current year, we have already exceeded 3 mt of import. So this indicates that the pulses growing region in the world, whether it is African countries, Brazil Australia, Canada or Russia, all of them have a well defined destination in India as far as pulses are concerned,” he said.

So in this context, for those who are growing pulses, India has used its EXIM policy in a way, which gives an assurance to different pulses growing regions of the world about the policy certainty in India, he said. Sarangi also highlighted MoUs with three African countries, assuring them of a certain off take even if there are import restrictions in India. Besides, the government has extended the free import policy regime till March 31, 2025. “This should give a fair deal of certainty to the growing regions to grow pulses and meet the demand in India,” he added.

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