Pulses – the valuable food

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PULSES ARE grown for highly nutritious protein due to their economical source, easy digestibility, and healthier food. They are also regarded as “poor mans meat” in the developing countries. Moreover, they add up in soil fertility when accumulate economical air nitrogen in rhizosphere region of soil where they are grown. Animals feed can also be fulfilled by the green biomass (stem, leaves, pods and seed) while their dry straw is used as hay. Proteins obtained from pulses, fulfill the human dietary needs, body growth, development and healing of body cells. Thus it provides a basis for essentiality at all growth stages in humans.

There are four major pulses in the country i.e. mung bean, mash bean, chickpea and lentil. On an average, a single Pakistani consumes 6-7 kg pulses annually. According to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), Pakistan exported pulses worth 2.019 million dollars during July- April 2013-14. This export is surged by 80.36%. This data has recorded an increase of 1.256 million dollar during July-April 2013-2014 as compared to commodities export of 1.563 million dollar in the same period of last fiscal year. This growth rate in the export of pulses strengthened the economy of the country and also reduced mainly the high import bill regarding pulses and oilseeds which was around 400 billion or 0.99 million US dollars. Hence being an agricultural country, Pakistan needs to focus on the profitable production of pulses. This is actually the dire need of the day which can ultimately support to the farmers directly.

Pakistani farmers like other developing countries mainly focus on increasing farm income and profitable production of agricultural crops. Even then, our agricultural land is still prone to fallow practices. Land utilization statistics of country 2012-13 depicted about 7.04 million hectares of land (1.89 in Punjab, 2.80 in Sindh, 0.58 in KPK and 1.77 in Baluchistan). Gram is mostly grown Punjab followed by Sindh and KPK. Punjab contributes about 80% in total production but the yield is highest in Sindh due to better adapted to weather conditions. While the land utilization statistics data reveals more fallow land 2.80 million hectares in Sindh. Moreover, gram production has decreased to 475 thousand tones in 2013-2014 as compared to 751 thousand tones in 2012-2013, sowing a decline of 36.8%. During July-March 2013-2014, the production of mung bean increased by 33% while production of other Mash and Masoor decreased by 6.4 and 5.1% respectively.

Despite of development of new seed varieties of pulses in Pakistan, the absence of sound seed is among main hurdles of low yield and less average production per acre. However, farmers of these areas commonly face harsh climatic conditions like drought, heat and cold hence pulses prone to these abnormal growing conditions. Moreover, farmers fields are lacking in optimum plant population due to less availability of soil moisture, low seed rate and poor management. Poor farm management practices favor the disease incidence, insect and pest attack. Fusarium wilt, root rot and insect borers become major yield reduction factors at lateral stages of crop development. Finally the socio-economic conditions of farmer such as giving the less priority to sowing pulse crops, poor support price policy and inefficient marketing system overall discourage the profitable produce of pulses.

To meet the scarcity of proteins; human require obtaining profitable production of pulses and the farmers need to adapt methods to increase the production. Farmer should grow better and latest developed cultivars of pulses. Maintaining adequate plant population, irrigation and fertilizers should be ensured. It should also be taken into account by farmers that pulses require less quantity nitrogen and as a starter dose only. The farmers should also adapt proper moisture conservation practices that will also be helpful in maintaining required plant population in the field. Farmers include these crops in cropping scheme to optimize crop rotation so that the fertility of agricultural land may be sustained on long term basis. Proper disease, weed, insect and pest protection practices should also be adopted to exploit maximum yield potential of the cultivars. Sound market prices for sale of produce can convince farmers to sow these low input crops on priority basis; therefore value addition should be focused. Government must take immediate steps for providing support price of pulses by keeping in view their worth in international market.


Published in: Volume 06 Issue 25

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