ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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This is with reference to the incisive article, “Making Pulses Affordable Again: Policy Options from the Farm to Retail in India” by P K Joshi, Avinash Kishore and Devesh Roy (EPW, 7 January 2017). The importance of pulses in the vegetarian diet could hardly be overemphasised. Pulses are lacking in certain amino acids, while cereals are lacking in others. But they complement each other and the balanced amino acid composition of cereals and pulses protein blend seems to match the milk protein, the high-quality protein that gets broken down and is absorbed into our bloodstream quickly. Moreover, pulses are rich in fibre and minerals. Their high iron and zinc contents also help combat anaemia in women and children. As pulses are cheaper than meat (animal protein), they are often referred to as “poor man’s meat” in developing countries like India.

Besides being a rich source of protein and other nutrients, pulses are also important for sustainable agriculture since they improve physical, chemical and biological properties of soil and function as mini nitrogen factories. It has rightly been pointed out in the article that among all protein-rich foods we consume pulses have the lowest carbon and water footprint. Indeed, pulses emit less greenhouse gases. According to a study, the production of 1 kilogram (kg) of pulses emits only 0.5 kg of CO2, whereas 1 kg of beef produces 9.5 kg of CO2. Due to tap root system, these crops open up soil by which soil aeration improves. The heavy leaf drop increases the organic matter in the soil. Moreover, pulses also have an inherent quality to trap moisture from lower strata of the soil; therefore, they are considerably drought tolerant and fit well in a rain-fed environment. One kg of pulses requires 50 litres of water for production while 1 kg of chicken or meat requires 4,325 and 5,520 litres of water, respectively.

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Updated On : 10th Feb, 2017
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