By Francis Kokutse
Accra, Oct 9 (IANS) India has signed a pact with Mozambique to develop and produce 690,000 tonnes of pulses over a five-year period from 2016 to 2021, documents accessed by IANS say.
The Memorandom of Understanding (MoU) with Mozambique fits into India’s resolve to improve the production of pulses in some African countries to meet the demand in India, sources said.
Beginning in 2016-17, India will import 100,000, 75,000, 175,000, 150,000 and 200,000 tonnes in each of the five years, the MoU says.
Towards this, India will support the production of pulses in Mozambique, promote consumption of pulses, provide farmers with agricultural extension services, cooperate in the areas of research and production of seeds, and promote the trade in pulses between Mozambique and India, the MoU says, without stating financials.
India’s resolve has not only struck a chord with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) — which has designated 2016 as the Year of the Pulse — it is also providing assistance to solve climate change problems in some African countries that are benefiting from India’s pulse development programme.
Other countries benefiting are Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania under the Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa (SITA) project that is financed by Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID). The project is being coordinated by the International Trade Centre (ITC) in Geneva.
The ITC has projected that India’s demand for pulses could rise to 32 million tonnes per year within the next 14 years. This is based on an estimate that the country’s population could reach 1.4 billion by 2030 from the current 1.2 billion.
ITC has also described India as the seventh-largest importer of pulses with value of such imports going up over the past decade from $446 million in 2004 to $2.17 billion in 2014.
FAO has described the production of pulse as a crop that has the characteristics to meet the changing global climatic conditions.
“Climate change has a huge impact on global food production and food security. Changing weather patterns can cause an increase in natural disasters like droughts, floods, hurricanes, which can impact every level of food production,” FAO said.
This would demand urgent and sustainable measures to be put in place to ensure that climate change did not put pressure on agricultural eco-systems, particularly in regions and for populations that are particularly vulnerable, it added.
Pulses have a broad genetic diversity from which improved varieties can be selected and bred, FAO said. This diversity is a particularly important attribute because more climate-resilient strains can be developed for use in areas prone to floods, drought and other extreme weather events.
Pulse production could indirectly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, FAO said, adding that globally around 190 million hectares of pulses contribute to five to seven million tonnes of nitrogen in soils.
“As pulses can fix their own nitrogen in the soil, they need less fertiliser, both organic and synthetic, and in this way, they play a part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” the organisation said.
It also said that when included in livestock feed, pulses’ high protein content contributes to increasing the food conversion ratio while decreasing methane emissions from ruminants, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“Agro-forestry systems are more able to withstand climate extremes as pulses are hardier than most crops and help to nourish the soil. When using these systems, farmers see an increase in crop productivity that extends to subsequent crop yields,” the FAO said.
(Francis Kokutse can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)