World Pulses Day 2022: Pakistan's Daal Consumption in Sharp Decline

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.

Rising Incomes:

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

Pulses Consumption:

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.

Dairy Consumption: 

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.

Meat Consumption:

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.


Riaz Haq said…
Celebrating Pulses: Major Supplier of Nutrition to People and the Soil

Rotating crops is an ancient practice that enriches the soil and improves yield. And it turns out that pulses are excellent in rotation with rice and wheat.

Every plant pulls nutrients from the soil. Yet pulses also put them back. Pulse plants are naturally rich in nitrogen, an essential nutrient for all plants. They store nitrogen in their root nodules, and after harvesting the crop, the plant material left on top of the ground and the roots underneath improve the soil for the crops that will follow.

Most farmers in Canada and India use two-crop rotations or possibly, three-crop rotations. Whatever the system, pulses can perform the essential task of making an entire farm healthier by improving the quality of the dirt, also known as soil health, across many years.

Pulses provide other benefits as well. In rotation, they help farmers disrupt the cycles of weeds, pests, and disease that always threaten food production. After harvest, their leaves and stems can add organic matter to the soil. And as hardy crops, they require less water and fertilizer.

Some pulse farmers struggle to find high-quality seeds—a bigger problem in the developing world than in the developed world, to be sure, but it’s also true that farmers everywhere are always on the lookout for the best seeds they can find.

GM technology has transformed the farming of many crops, including the soybean, which is a fellow legume though not a pulse. (Soybeans have a much higher fat content, whereas pulses have virtually none.) Up to now, however, the gene revolution has not affected pulses.

Both of us would welcome pulses enhanced by GM technology, including the advent of traits that help these outstanding crops repel weeds, survive drought and could contribute to the elimination of malnutrition in the world.

That’s another thing farmers have in common on World Pulses Day and beyond: No matter where we live, what we eat, or how we grow, we always want to do our best and know from first-hand experience that technology can help us do better.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan Meat Industry

Riaz Haq said…
Production, Trade and Consumption of Pulses
The Global Economy of Pulses edited by Vikas Rawal and Dorian Kalamvrezos Navarro, Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2019; pp xi + 174, price not indicated.

There appears to be a widely prevalent impression, particularly among the developed countries, that there are people and nations who do not know the “incredible properties” of pulses, and believe “that their nutritional value is generally not recognised and their consumption is frequently under-appreciated” (FAO 2016). Such a situation may be largely because pulses in farming and food are essentially a third world phenomenon. Almost 90% of the area under pulses and about 80% of output of pulses are in developing countries, and among them sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where the world’s most of the poor and undernourished live, and for whom pulses are a critical source of protein, together account for about two-thirds of the area, and one-half of output of world’s pulses (Joshi and Rao 2016).

Pulse protein is a relatively large share of overall consumption in low-income countries, ranging from 10–35% in Africa. The country with the greatest pulse consumption is India. Protein from pulses represents 12.7% of total protein in the Indian diet. (Mc Dermott and Wyatt 2017)

To bring to light the crucial role that pulses play in health diets and sustainable agricultural production, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses (IYP) nominating the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as the agency to implement it. Soon after the FAO came out with a report that was intended to popularise different aspects of pulses by illustrating (literally, as could be seen from the colourful pages all along in the report) the benefits ranging from nutrition to biodiversity—that included not only the expertise of the agriculture and nutrition sciences, but also appetising pulse recipes by some of the world-class chefs from across the regions (FAO 2016). But the volume under review, is of a different kind that seeks to explain “the world pulses situation and recent market trends, covering the themes of production, yields, utilisation, consumption, international trade and prices, as well as providing a medium-term outlook for pulses” (p x).

Popular posts from this blog

Olive Revolution: Pakistan Joins International Olive Council

Pakistani-American Banker Heads SWIFT, The World's Biggest InterBank Payments System

Pakistani Women's Growing Particpation in Workforce