The United Nations has declared February 10 as World Pulses Day to recognize the importance of pulses or daal as global food. This recognition is driven as part of the effort to feed the global population in an environmentally sustainable way. Pulse crops have a lower carbon footprint than most foods because they require a small amount of fertilizer to grow, according to the United Nations. Pulses are protein and fiber rich food grown with a low carbon and water footprint as they are adapted to semi-arid conditions and can tolerate drought stress. Daal (pulses) global consumption is currently rising at a rate of about 9% annually.
|Global Daal Consumption. Source: FAO, Helgi
While the global daal consumption has significantly risen in recent years, Pakistan's per capita daal (pulse) consumption has sharply declined to about 7 kg/person from about 15 Kg/person in the 1960s, according to data released by Food and Agriculture Organization and reported in Pakistani media. Meat has replaced it as the main source of protein with per capita meat consumption rising from 11.7 kg in 2000 to 32 kg in 2016. It is projected to rise to 47 kg by 2020, according to a paper published in the Korean Journal of Food Science of Animal Resources.
FAO report titled "State of Food and Agriculture in Asia and the Pacific Region" said rising incomes in developing nations are causing a shift from plant proteins — such as those found in pulses (daal) and beans — to more expensive animal proteins such as those found in meat and dairy.
|Food Consumption By Quintiles in Pakistan
Per capita consumption of pulses in Pakistan has sharply declined from about 15 kg per person a year to about 7 kg per person a year, found a new report of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In spite of decline in consumption, Pakistan is still the second largest importer of pulses in the world. India is both the largest producer and the largest importer of pulses.
Chana (chickpeas), masoor, mung bean and mash are 4 important pulse crops in Pakistan. Last year, the combined production of all four crops was around 0.7 million tons with dominant share of 80 per cent of gram. The Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) says the total area under major pulse crops in Pakistan is about 1.3 million hectares.
Pakistan is now producing enough mung beans to meet its domestic needs. The first estimate of the crop for 2021-22 puts the legume output at 253,000 tons, more than enough to meet domestic demand for about 180,000 tons, according to Pakistani media reports.
Pakistan’s domestic production of chickpeas (chana) is estimated to be about 225,000 – 250,000 tons and it imports about 420,000 tons which adds to about 670,000 tons.
The first-ever production of kidney bean varieties at commercial level will begin soon as the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (Parc) will release six new varieties of common bean varieties in the country, according to a Dawn newspaper report.
|Daal (Pulse) Consumption Trend in South Asia. Source: FAO
In neighboring India, too, the consumption of pulse declined from about 22kg per person per year to about 15kg per person per year. In Sri Lanka, however, pulse consumption seemed to have fluctuated between 5kg and 10kg per person per year since 1960, except for a sharp drop from 1970 to 1985, the report said.
Economic Survey of Pakistan reported that Pakistanis consumed over 45 million tons of milk in fiscal year 2016-17, translating to about 220 Kg/person.
FAO's "State of Food and Agriculture in Asia and the Pacific Region" says that Mongolia and Pakistan are the only two among the 26 countries in Asia Pacific region where per capita milk consumption exceeded 370 grams/day.
Pakistan's per capita meat consumption has nearly tripled from 11.7 kg in 2000 to 32 kg in 2016. It is projected to rise to 47 kg by 2020, according to a paper published by the United States National Library of Medicines at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Organization for Economic Development (OECD) explains that meat demand increases with higher incomes and a shift - often due to growing urbanization - to food preferences that favor increased proteins from animal sources in diets.
|Meat Production in Pakistan. Source: FAO
The NIH paper authors Mohammad Shoaib and Faraz Jamil point out that Pakistan's meat consumption of 32 Kg per person is only a third of the meat capita meat consumption in rich countries like Australia and the United States.
A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Nature magazine reports that Pakistanis are among the most carnivorous people in the world. After studying the eating habits of 176 countries, the authors found that average human being is at 2.21 trophic level. It put Pakistanis at 2.4, the same trophic level as Europeans and Americans. China and India are at 2.1 and 2.2 respectively.
Chicken Vs Daal:
In 2016, Pakistan's then finance minister Ishaq Dar suggested to his countrymen to eat chicken instead of daal (pulses or legumes). To some, the minister sounded like Queen Marie-Antoinette (wife of France's King Louis XVI) who reportedly said to hungry rioters during the French Revolution: “Qu'ils mangent de la brioche”—“Let them eat cake”?
It was indeed true that some varieties of daal were priced higher than chicken. For example, maash was selling at Rs. 260 per kilo, higher than chicken meat at Rs. 200 per kilo. But other daals such as mung, masur and chana were cheaper than chicken.
The reason for higher daal prices and relatively lower chicken prices can be found in the fact that Pakistan's livestock industry, particularly poultry farming, has seen significant growth that the nation's pulse crop harvests have not. Pakistan is among the world's largest importers of pulses.
Pakistan Among World's Largest Food Producers:
Pakistan's agriculture output is the 10th largest in the world. The country produces large and growing quantities of cereals, meat, milk, fruits and vegetables. Currently, Pakistan produces about 38 million tons of cereals (mainly wheat, rice and corn), 17 million tons of fruits and vegetables, 70 million tons of sugarcane, 60 million tons of milk and 4.5 million tons of meat. Total value of the nation's agricultural output exceeds $50 billion. Improving agriculture inputs and modernizing value chains can help the farm sector become much more productive to serve both domestic and export markets.
Driven by sustainability concerns, the global daal consumption is rising at a rate of about 9% a year. However, per capita daal consumption in Pakistan is falling while meat and milk consumption is rising rising household incomes. Pulse consumption has sharply declined to about 7 kg/person from about 15 Kg/person in 2000, according to data released by the Food and Agriculture Organization and reported in Pakistani media. Meat has replaced it as the main source of protein with per capita meat consumption rising from 11.7 kg in 2000 to 32 kg in 2016. It is projected to rise to 47 kg by 2020, according to a paper published in the Korean Journal of Food Science of Animal Resources.
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