India today urged BRICS nations to lend a helping hand to meet the supply-demand gap in pulses and edible oils in the country.
India will like to seek cooperation from other BRICS member countries (Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa) to meet production shortfall in crops like pulses and oilseeds, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said at a two-day conference of Agriculture Ministers of BRICS nations.
Singh said there is ample scope for cooperation in agricultural trade among these nations.
This, he explained, will open better "business opportunities" for BRICS countries.
"All must work together to enhance trade among our countries by resolving market access issues".
The minister said innovative working models must be developed, like contract farming and leasing of surplus land.
Officials said the central government had started importing pulses through state-run Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation and even entered into an arrangement with Mozambique for long-term supply of lentils.
A joint statement at the end of the meeting of the BRICS Agriculture and Agrarian Development Ministers, the participating countries agreed to declare year 2016 as the International Year of Pulses in line with the declaration made by the UN General Assembly.
According to the first advance estimate of foodgrain output released by the Agriculture Ministry on Thursday, India's production of pulses is pegged at a record 8.7 million tonnes in the kharif season this year.
The retail prices of pulses have risen sharply due to a fall in production in the last two years.
Government sources said the country's pulses output is estimated to increase to 20 million tonnes in the 2016-17 crop year (July-June) on account of good monsoon after two drought years.
However, as requirement of pulses and domestic demand have shot up to 24 million tonnes, the production is still on the lower side.
The Centre has taken steps to build up buffer stocks of over 20 lakh tonnes and to encourage farmers to focus more on cultivation of lentils, sources said.
(With IANS inputs)