Madhya Pradesh’s pulse hub is gradually losing its glory as more and more farmers are quitting pulse cultivation in the state following narrowing profit margins, according to agriculture experts.
The hub, located in Gadarwara area of Narsinghpur district, about 200 kilometres from Bhopal, once had a roaring pulses trade, especially in arhar, moong and urad. The quality of the pulses drew traders from southern states, Bihar and Bengal from the Rs 90s onward.
However, frequent hailstorms hit the harvest and quality of the produce. The trend then began to reflect as losses for the farmers. Many of them quit pulse cultivation and in effect the hub began to lose its age-old clientele and fame, experts said.
The trend is amply reflected in the figures which show shrinking pulses cultivation land over a period of time.
In Narsinghpur district the area of cultivation of arhar (tur dal) declined continuously from 51.70 thousand hectare in 2011-12, 44.25 thousand hectare in 2012-13 to 35.50 thousand hectare in 2013-14.
The production of arhar dropped from 5,85,000 tonnes in 2011-12 to 4,11,800 tons in 2013-14.
The farmers from other districts including Sagar, Damoh, Raisen, Seoni, Chhindwara go to Narsinghpur krishi mandi to sell the yield since they get higher price there than other mandis.
The farmers sell their yield to the private traders instead of going to the government procurement centre where the minimum support price announced by the union government for arhar (tur dal) was `4,350 per quintal (2014-15).
For the same period, the private traders in Narsinghpur paid `6,000-8,000 per quintal to farmers.
Most of the pulse processing mills are located in Gadarwara area of the district where once there were 80 dal processing mills now operational 14 dal mills.
“Farmers slowly shifted to other crops from pulses due to which the millers did not get sufficient raw stocks and the profit margin was narrowing. This led to closure of units in past 15-20 years”, Mahesh Malpani, a mill owner in Gadarwara said.
The yield of moong crop dropped from 699 kg per hectare in 2011-12 to 408 kg per hectare in 2014-15. The yield of urad crop increased from 420 kg/hectare to 917 kg/hectare.
A farmer Ravi Khazanchi of Gadarwara said, “The non-availability of short duration and high yielding varieties of arhar crop forced the farmers to discontinue cultivation of the crop”.
When contacted Gadarwara senior agriculture development officer KS Raghuvanshi said, “In past 2-3 years the farmers are not interested to go for cultivation of pulses due to heavy crop loss following hailstorm and other natural factors”.
“The farmers do not get expected profit from the ahar crop that occupies the field for maximum time of the year,” he added.