UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics

Ashish Shenoy, University of California, Davis

Reviving Pulse Production in India: Farm Household Impacts of Pulse Promotion and Extension

Date and Location

Tuesday, November 15, 2022, 4:10 PM - 5:30 PM
ARE Library Conference Room, 4101 Social Sciences and Humanities


While pulses remain a dietary mainstay for Indians, domestic production of pulses has stagnated. In the most agriculturally productive regions, pulse cultivation has retreated in the wake of dramatic productivity gains in staples and cash crops. Concerned about its growing dependence on pulse imports and exposure to global food price shocks and about potential implications for rural diets, the Government of India commissioned an experiment in rural Bihar to test whether an ambitious 'last mile' intervention to revive pulses could reverse this trend. We evaluate the impact of this intervention on the adoption and production of pulses, household profits and food consumption, especially protein intake. The promotion and extension campaign succeeded in getting farmers to cultivate pulses, but these short-term changes were not sustained. While there is some evidence that these production changes increased the storage and consumption of pulses in these households, the production effects were simply too small on average to have a detectable, persistent impact on protein intake. We experimentally test the claim that low and uncertain pulse prices discourage investments in pulse production. We find limited support for this claim, suggesting that productivity breakthroughs in upstream agricultural research may be a prerequisite to reversing Indian farmers' retreat from pulse production.

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