India’s Lentil Production Reaches Record Levels, Government Reports All-Time High

India’s Lentil Production Reaches Record Levels, Government Reports All-Time High

India is poised to emerge as the leading global producer of lentils (masoor) in the 2023-24 crop year, driven by an increase in cultivation, as highlighted by Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar on Friday. This development is noteworthy for India, a key player among the world’s top five lentil producers, ranking second only to Canada. Despite its significant production capacity, India has traditionally relied on imports to fulfill its domestic demand for lentils.

During a roadshow leading up to the Global Pulse Conference (GPC) scheduled for February in New Delhi, Singh expressed optimism about India’s lentil production, anticipating record-breaking figures for the current year. The country’s lentil output had experienced a decline since the peak in 2017-18 when it reached 1.62 million tonnes. In the 2022-23 crop year, official data reported a lentil production of 1.56 million tonnes.

With the government actively encouraging farmers to expand pulse cultivation, the current year has witnessed a surge in the acreage dedicated to lentil crops. Agriculture Ministry data reveals that, as of January 12, 2024, approximately 19.45 lakh hectares are under lentil cultivation. This represents a 6% increase (1.06 lakh hectares) compared to the previous year’s 18.39 lakh hectares and a remarkable 37% rise from the typical lentil cultivation area of 14.37 lakh hectares.

Echoing the sentiment of Home Minister Amit Shah, who emphasized the benefits of growing pulses, Singh stated, “If a farmer grows pulses, he will have a full fertilizer factory in his field due to inherent benefits of the crop, and we firmly believe in the same.”

Addressing an event on January 4, Home Minister Shah, who also serves as the Union Minister for Cooperation, emphasized the need for India to achieve self-reliance in arhar, urad, and lentils. He highlighted the government’s commitment by increasing the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for lentils to Rs 6,425 per quintal for the Rabi Marketing Season 2024-25, a significant rise from Rs 2,950 per quintal in 2014-15.

While India ranks second globally in lentil production, it has historically imported lentils to meet domestic requirements, primarily sourcing from countries such as Australia, Canada, Russia, Singapore, and Turkey. Notably, during the current year, India also imported lentils from the UAE, USA, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. In the April-October period of the fiscal year 2023-24, lentil imports surged to 9.46 lakh tonnes, marking a substantial 159% increase compared to the 3.65 lakh tonnes imported during the same period in the previous year.