Boosting production and export of pulses in East Africa can provide India with a more sustainable supply of the commodity. This will address issues of rising consumption and price instability that contribute to India’s malnutrition problem, while at the same time delivering a reliable source of income for East African farmers.

The World Bank estimates that India has one of the highest rates of children suffering from malnutrition in the world. Malnutrition is also a growing public health problem in East Africa. Pulses represent a healthy, cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to address these problems in both India and Africa. 

India is the world’s largest producer and consumer of pulses. With a growing population and rising income levels, consumption of pulses in India has increased. But local production has declined. India is increasingly dependent on imports to fulfil its requirements, leaving the market vulnerable to price shocks. Moreover, current per capita consumption is 30 per cent lower than the recommended calorie intake. This builds a strong case for developing alternate sources of supply and encouraging new importers into the Indian market.

Establishing East Africa as a sustainable source of pulses can bring stability to the Indian market and encourage increased consumption of pulses, addressing its malnutrition challenge. Pulses can also become an additional source of income for millions of African farmers. Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia are expanding their pulses production base and trade with India. However, the pulses market in these three countries remains unstructured and the value chain faces a number of bottlenecks and institutional challenges that hamper productivity and exports. 

So what is SITA doing?

The International Trade Centre is currently implementing Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa (SITA) to respond to this need. Funded by the Department for International Development, UK SITA supports value chain improvements in the pulses sector in Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia. With the objective of increasing pulses exports to India and Indian investments into the three countries, SITA has engaged with stakeholders at enterprise, institutional and policy maker levels to address these challenges.  

  • SITA is working directly with Ministry of Trade and Ministry of Agriculture in Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia to improve the business climate for investors in the pulses sector. 
  • SITA has collaborated with local sector associations and is working directly with numerous exporters from East Africa and facilitating linkages with Indian importers. 
  • SITA is developing a mobile application for East African companies and farmer organisations that can provide real-time information about prices, production and forecasts on pulses crops. 
  • SITA will host a B2B event in August in 4 Indian cities. The event will include participation of over 20 exporters from Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania.

Since project implementation in March 2015, SITA has already facilitated pulses exports of over 5 million USD from East Africa, a large portion of which is from first-time exporters. If implemented efficiently, and with the engagement of all stakeholders, East Africa and India can have a win-win collaboration -- East Africa offering a sustainable supply of pulses and India offering a stable market for millions of East African farmers. 

ITC is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization   and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium- sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the Millennium Development Goals