M.P. govt’s dangerous move: Chana purchases with toxic khesar admixture

The Madhya Pradesh government deserves to be complimented for supporting pulse growers by determining to invest in chana (gram or chickpea) at the minimum aid cost (MSP) of ₹4,875 a quintal. While the place just lately harvested a file 109 lakh tonnes of chana, farm-gate rates have remained frustrated below the MSP (by about 20 for every cent) at ₹4,000 a quintal.

Having said that, the Condition government has embarked on a perilous class by allowing purchase of chana with 2 for every cent khesar (botanical title: lathyrus sativus, also recognised as ‘grass pea’), a legume prolonged suspected to be harmful. This purchase policy — chana combined with khesar — can potentially lead to significant well being consequences about time. The Centre has permitted the admixture, in accordance to press stories.

The viewpoint of scientists about the desirability of consuming lathyrus is combined. A part strongly thinks that intake of khesar dal regularly about time might lead to critical well being troubles such as paralysis. At the identical time, anecdotal stories propose consuming this pulse in meagre portions does not harm.

Given that the jury is nonetheless out and there is no conclusive evidence either way, it would make eminent perception to follow the ‘precautionary principle’. Why need to any government formally permit the admixture of a harmful compound in a food stuff product or service?

Scope for malpractice

By allowing 2 for every cent admixture, the M.P. government is in fact encouraging growers to deliberately blend khesar dal in chana that is offered for government purchase. Also, there is no warranty, in true follow, the 2 for every cent tolerance norm will be strictly followed. Any malpractice can potentially perform havoc with the well being of shoppers.

Khesar dal has experienced a controversial heritage in our place. Sale and storage of the crop was banned several many years ago, but not cultivation. So, even now, it is cultivated in specific elements of North and Central India, as rising of the crop comes at just about no cost and does not require any agronomic management.

While the ordinary planted area for this rabi crop is about four lakh hectares, the true acreage has fallen a little below the mark and has ranged involving 3. lakh and 3.3 lakh hectares. Chhattisgarh accounts for about two-3rd of the area, followed at a length by West Bengal.

The Ministry of Agriculture tracks the area under lathyrus cultivation. Manufacturing is estimated to be in the array of 2.four-3. lakh tonnes. According to the Directorate of Pulse Enhancement, Bhopal, there has been no cultivation of lathyrus in M.P. since 2014-15, for every data available in the Agriculture Ministry internet site.

Inconvenient inquiries

If M.P. does not cultivate khesar, why need to the Condition government allow 2 for every cent admixture in its procurement? Does it necessarily mean the pulse might be brought from Chhattisgarh, combined with chana and sold to the M.P. government? Why did the Ministry of Agriculture allow the M.P. government to procure chana with 2 for every cent khesar combined when its individual documents present there is no khesar cultivation in the Condition? These are really inconvenient inquiries the government wants to response.

This type of misadventure is witnessed at a time when the place is going through an unparalleled well being crisis in the form of Covid-19 and, as a result, millions of wage earners have dropped their livelihood and are probable to slide below the poverty line.

The writer is a policy commentator and agribusiness specialist. Views are personal

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