Tomato prices may be cooling from recent highs, but pulses could play the next spoilsport in the battle against inflation, with a below-par monsoon in August dragging down the sown area for pulses in the Kharif season by almost 10% from a year ago.
While a 37% surge in vegetable prices had fired up retail inflation to a 15-month high of 7.4% in July, prices of pulses have also risen sharply in recent months, speeding to 13.3% in July from 10.6% in June.
Economists reckon prices of pulses like tur dal and moong dal, that surged 34.1% and 9.1% respectively in July, would likely spiral further.
This is because the total sown area for dals — 114.9 lakh hectares as on August 18 — is unlikely to improve much amid deficient rainfall towards the end of the sowing season.
Sown area for cereals and rice, that were lagging behind last year’s levels till a few weeks ago, have now inched up to grow 1.6% and 4.3%, respectively, and could help moderate their price rise in coming months.
However, pulses sowing has not staged such a recovery and has, in fact, got worse over the past week.
Pulses are a type of leguminous crop that includes various types of beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peas. They are renowned for their nutritional value and numerous health benefits. Here are some of the key benefits of including pulses in your diet:
Rich in Protein: Pulses are an excellent plant-based source of protein. They contain a substantial amount of essential amino acids, making them a valuable protein source, especially for vegetarians and vegans.
High in Fiber: Pulses are high in dietary fiber, which aids in digestion, helps maintain bowel regularity, and promotes a feeling of fullness, thus aiding in weight management.
Low in Fat: Most pulses are naturally low in fat, making them a heart-healthy choice. They are a good alternative to higher-fat animal protein sources.
Complex Carbohydrates: Pulses provide complex carbohydrates that are digested more slowly than simple carbohydrates, helping to regulate blood sugar levels and providing sustained energy.
Rich in Nutrients: Pulses are rich in various essential nutrients such as folate, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. These nutrients play crucial roles in maintaining overall health.
Cholesterol Management: The soluble fiber in pulses helps to lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels, thus reducing the risk of heart disease.
Weight Management: Due to their protein and fiber content, pulses can contribute to feelings of satiety, reducing overeating and aiding in weight management.
Diabetes Control: The low glycemic index of pulses can help manage blood sugar levels, making them a good choice for individuals with diabetes.
Digestive Health: The dietary fiber in pulses promotes a healthy gut by supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and preventing constipation.
Antioxidants: Pulses contain various antioxidants, such as flavonoids and polyphenols, which help protect cells from oxidative stress and reduce inflammation in the body.
Sustainable Agriculture: Pulses have nitrogen-fixing properties, which means they enrich the soil with nitrogen, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers. This makes them an environmentally friendly crop choice that contributes to sustainable agriculture.
Affordability: Pulses are generally more affordable than many other protein sources, making them a cost-effective option for individuals and families.
Cultural Diversity: Pulses are integral to the diets of many cultures around the world. Incorporating pulses into your meals can introduce you to a wide variety of delicious and culturally rich dishes.
Versatility: Pulses can be prepared in various ways, including soups, stews, salads, curries, and dips. Their versatility makes it easy to include them in a wide range of recipes.