Pulses include a large number of crops which are mostly leguminous and rich in vegetable protein. These are used for human food and feeding cattle. They fix atmospheric nitrogen in the soil and hence are usually rotated with other crops to maintain soil fertility.
The cereal-pulses production ratio has also moved consistently against pulses from 5.04: 1 in 1950-51 to 11.19: I in 1980-81 and 14.63: I in 2002-03. As a consequence, the average protein content in the Indian diet has been going down with the decline in the consumption of pulses from 69 gm per capita per diem in 1961 to 36.5 gm in 1990 (WHO recommendation 80 gm/day), or by 47 percent.
Another disturbing feature of the production scenario has been the significant decline in the growth rate of pulses production. During the pre- Green Revolution period (1949-50 to 1964-65) the rate of growth was 1.39 per cent per annum, but it declined to 0.78 per cent per annum in the post- Green Revolution period (1967-68 to 1989-90). To a large extent, the higher growth rate in the earlier period was due to expansion of area under pulses.
Which took place at the rate of 1.9 per cent as compared to 0.3 per cent per annum in the later period? In contrast, growth in productivity played a larger role in the latter period, when it increased by 0.6 per cent per annum as compared to a declining rate of 0.2 per cent in the pre-Green Revolution period. However, on the whole, the production and productivity trends have not been encouraging. The comparative growth rates in area, production and yield in pulses, oilseeds and total cereals indicate that pulses have lagged behind both cereals and oilseeds in terms of productivity gains.
Major factors which have inhibited the productivity growth are the lack of irrigation, low application of fertilizers, higher susceptibility to pests and diseases and low remunerative prices to the farmers. Only 12.7 per cent of the total cropped area of the pulses is irrigated as against 85 percent in case of wheat, 50 per cent in case of rice, 25 per cent in case of oilseeds and 34 percent in case of cotton.
In major producing states such as Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan this share was in the range of 4-12 per cent. Similarly the average per hectare fertiliser consumption in the major pulse producing states during 1985-86 ranged from 4.36 kg to 6.78 kg or about 10-12 per cent of the recommended level (30-40 kg).
The higher per hectare yield of pulses in comparatively better irrigated and more fertilizer consumed states like Haryana and Punjab (Table 9.XVI) clearly indicate that there is ample scope for augmenting the production of pulses in the country by adopting better crop management.
Gram is an important pulse crop occupying 28 per cent of the total area under pulses in the country. It is used in various ways for human food and for animal fodder. Gram contains 61.5% of carbohydrates, 21% protein and 358 calories (in 100 gram).
Conditions of Growth
Gram requires mild cool weather with average temperature between 20° and 25°C. Frost is harmful for the crop. Sudden rise in temperature in early summer shortens the growing period, quickens maturity and reduces yield. It requires low to moderate rainfall of 35-50 cm. Although it can be cultivated on a number of soils but well drained loamy soils are well suited. The alluvial soils of the Khadar areas of the Ganga Plain are also suitable for the crop. The crop is sown broadcast or in rows in mid- October-November and harvested in March-April.
Gram is cultivated as single crop or mixed with wheat, barley, linseed, mustard or safflower. Mixed cropping helps in protecting the crop from the blight. The average per hectare yield of gram is 728 kg which is higher than other crops of pulses (Turn 653 kg, Urad 485 kg and Moong 417 kg), but lower than cereals (wheat 2618 kg, rice 1804 kg. Barley 2029 kg, maize 1638 kg and ragi 1016 kg).
The yield has increased in recent years due to use of improved seeds and input facilities. At state level highest per hectare yield (979 kg) is obtained in Andhra Pradesh, followed by Bihar (970 kg), Uttar Pradesh (892 kg). West Bengal (771 kg) and Rajasthan (758 kg). Peninsular states like Karnataka (538 kg), Gujarat (500 kg), Maharashtra (564 kg) and Orissa (571 kg) are characterised by low per hectare yield.