Pulses for nutrition in India: Changing patterns from farm to fork
This book (PDF and synopsis) by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) considers the role that pulses can play in improving food security and nutrition in India as well as the changes necessary in production practices to accomplish these goals. India, a country with high concentrations of poor and malnourished people, long promoted a cereal-centric diet composed of subsidized staple commodities to feed its population. Today, however, dietary patterns are changing. Policy makers, researchers, and health activists shift their focus from calorie intake to nutrition, resulting in more attention for neglected foods such as pulses (the dried, edible seeds of legumes). This book explores the numerous benefits of a diet that incorporates pulses. Pulses are less expensive than meat, excellent sources of protein, and they also benefit the ecosystem. Among protein-rich foods, pulses have the lowest carbon and water footprints. They also improve soil health by naturally balancing atmospheric nitrogen in the soil; thus reducing the need for nitrogenous fertilizer. The book looks at India’s pulse sector in light of agricultural systems, climate change, irrigation design, and how policies have evolved over time. To understand how pulses can help fulfill the objectives of India’s food policies, experts explore the role that production plays in global trade; the changing demand in India since the 1960s; the possibility of improving yields with better technology to compete with cereals; and the long-term health benefits of greater reliance.