NEW DELHI: Faced with shortage in production of pulses and oilseeds, India today sought cooperation from BRICS nations to meet the domestic demand.

“India would like to seek cooperation from member countries in helping to meet our production shortfall in crops like pulses and oilseeds,” Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said addressing the 6th meet of BRICS Agriculture Ministers here.

This will offer business opportunities for other BRICS countries, which could be tapped through innovative models such as contract farming, leasing surplus land as well as through stepped up production and conventional trade to meet India’s requirements, he said.

Stating that BRICS have ample scope of cooperation in agriculture trade, Singh said: “We should work together to enhance trade among our countries by resolving market access issues through suitable institutional mechanisms.”

He also said India is encouraging higher investment in agriculture both by public and private sectors.

India has a huge supply-demand gap in pulses and edible oils and depends heavily on imports. The widening gap in pulses’ production due to drought in last two years has put pressure on retail prices, prompting the government to take various steps to boost domestic supply.

The government has started importing pulses through state-run MMTC and even entered into an arrangement with Mozambique for long-term supply of lentils.

Besides, the government has raised support price of pulses to boost domestic production, while creating buffer stock of 2 million tonnes from local procurement and imports.

Country’s pulses output is estimated to increase to 20 million tonnes in 2016-17 crop year (July-June) on account of good monsoon after two drought years. But the production is still lower than domestic demand of 23-24 million tonnes.

Pulses production fell to 16.47 million tonnes in 2015-16 crop year from 17.15 million tonnes in the previous year.