India’s deal with Mozambique to buy pulses is welcome, but there also has to be a strong domestic response as food demand patterns change with growing incomes
India this week cut a deal with Mozambique to buy pulses. There will hopefully be more such agreements in the months ahead till the government manages to persuade farmers to shift from cereals to pulses. Rising prices of pulses have been one of the drivers of food inflation in recent years.
There was a time when India was dependent on food aid from the US to feed its hungry population. This dependence sometimes meant that independent foreign policy was compromised. India eventually managed to break this dependence after the Green Revolution. A food mountain has been built up since then.
A similar approach will eventually be needed for pulses as well. Trade will be a part of the solution, and that is why the Mozambique deal is welcome, but there also has to be a strong domestic response as food demand patterns change with growing incomes. Farm policy has failed on this front. The result is persistent food inflation that can still bring down governments.