Poor rains may hit pulses production: Sharad Pawar

India, the largest producer and consumer of pulses in the world, may continue to face a shortage of the popular staple with poor rains in key pulse-producing southern and western states affecting sowing.

This could trim output in the 2012-13 year and force the country to import more lentils, thereby adding to inflation woes, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said today.

The weak south-western monsoon has affected rainfall in the southern states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in June, which is crucial time for sowing of pulses. Even a delayed sowing will affect the production of pulses in 2012-13, Pawar said.

Pawar was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of conference at the Central Institute of Fisheries Education in Mumbai.

India, the world's top importer of pulses, consumes over 20 million tonnes of various pulses, but production has so far continued to lag consumption. The gap is met by imports mostly from Myanmar, Canada and Australia.

High prices of pulses contribute 0.72 per cent to India's inflation, which at 7.55 per cent currently.