For the second consecutive year, a record drought is observed in India. The country is experiencing an acute shortage of rainfall and freshwater resources. As of June 2016, the volume of water in major reservoirs amounts to no more than 20% of the normal level. This will definitely entail a reduction in crop yield. Green pea is one of India’s major crops, and its importance, as well as that of other legumes, cannot be overestimated. Its harvest forecasts for the current year are negative.
Plant protein is essential in Indian dietary structure, as the diet is meager in terms of meat content. For a large part of the Indian population, legumes are the only source of protein. This makes green peas, along with other legumes, a very important food resource in the country. The crop success also lies in its high yields, allowing for maximum results with minimum investments. As of 2014, the yield of green peas in India totaled 96,800 Hg/Ha.
Per capita consumption of green peas in India was 3.4 kg/person in 2014. For the country with a high proportion of the vegetarian population, this figure is extremely low, albeit notable when compared to the global average value of 2.3 kg/person. Among the top fifteen countries in terms of green pea consumption, per capita consumption rate significantly (more than 2-fold) exceeds India’s only in Belgium (17.9 kg/person), Hungary (7.8 kg/person), and China (7.0 kg/person.). In these countries, a significant amount of products is supplied for processing (canning or freezing) and further exported to foreign countries, while in India, almost the entire volume is consumed by the country’s population.
Over the period from 2007 to 2014, per capita consumption of green peas in India increased at an annual rate of +7.5%, which was possible as a result of the industry’s development. However, the rate is still below the necessary level, and has a good chance of more than doubling.
India is not only the largest consumer of green peas, but also takes second place in global production, following China. The northern and central parts of the country are the main areas of green pea cultivation in India. In 2014, India produced 4.286 thousand tonnes of peas, while the volume almost doubled over the past 7 years. Production increase was caused by the expansion of cultivated areas, along with increasing crop yields. From 2007 to 2014, there were no extreme droughts observed in the areas of green pea cultivation, like the one of 2015-2016.
Almost the entire volume of green peas produced in India is supplied to the domestic market. Exports (both in fresh and in processed forms) are episodic and do not exceed 0.5% of production. At the same time, there are no imports; therefore, India is entirely dependent on its own resources.
Neighboring China records comparably high green pea production volumes, with 9,950 thousand tonnes produced in 2014, which was 2.3 times greater than India’s production. However, the products manufactured in China are also supplied mainly to the domestic market. Expansion of green pea exports to India in 2016 will most likely depend primarily on China’s crop yield. At the same time, China has a developed production of canned fruits and vegetables, which gives the additional benefits from processed green pea sales. This, along with a large domestic demand, places a constraint on the supplies of Chinese green peas to India.
Other countries are inferior in terms of production of green peas. The U.S. takes third place, with a considerable gap, with 275 thousand tonnes of green peas produced. In case of a loss of a significant harvest of green peas in 2016, it is clear that India would be in a critical situation that could only be resolved in the next season.
Modern global processes can lead India to a food crisis. The impact of El Niño, uncontrolled population growth, and pollution of natural resources jeopardize the food security of the country, and the green pea market is just an example of that. Of course, India is currently far from the disaster, as lean years can take place anywhere in the world. However, this problem should be solved with care, given the particular importance of the agricultural sector in this country.