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Commodity
LENTIL (MASUR)
Description | Overview | History | Cultivation pattern | Lentil (Masur) producing countries | Indian masur market | Major trading centers
Description


Masur or lentil is a bushy, annual shrub plant that is popular for its lens shaped seeds, which are consumed as food in stew or other forms all over the world. These seeds have a vast range of colors from yellow to red-orange to green, brown and black and also have second highest levels of proteins and fiber after soybeans. The thin lentil plant, which is named ‘Lens culinaris’ botanically, comes from the legume family and gains a height of 12 to 24 inches at maturity. The tap root system of the plant usually grows to a depth of around 15 inches that makes it a moderately drought resistant shrub. Also possessing white to pale blue flowers, lentils are often considered a cousin of bean. Lentils are also important as they indulge in the nitrogen fixation process that helps the soil revive its nitrogen content.

Overview


Lentil is the oldest food legume that has been known to the mankind. The nutritious value of the seeds of the plant is quite high as it is rich in carbohydrates, fibers and proteins and that is why lentil is so popular among the vegetarian population of the world. It also acts as an important secondary crop in the crop rotation schedule as it has been proven that masur crop is extremely good in fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere and forming nitrogen nodules in the soil that rejuvenates the nutrients and keeps the soil productive for a long time.

Regarding the production of this legume grain crop, it is considered that lentil does not contribute much in the world’s total production of pulses as production of other pulses including dry edible beans and field beans is much higher than this crop. The country that dominate the largest lentil producer’s list is Canada followed by India having a mammoth share in the world production of around 40 lakh tons annually. This production figure has been almost stable during the last decade. Most of the lentil’s demand arises from the food sector. The southeastern Asian countries where majority of the population is vegetarian, holds a large share of the world’s total consumption. The major lentil consuming countries are

  • India

  • China

  • Turkey

  • Japan

  • Syria

  • Spain

India is the largest consumer of the grains and the country almost consumes all its domestic produce. Around 26% of the total masur produced in the world are traded in the international market. The world trade is dominated by Canada, as it is the largest exporter of the lentil seeds. The world lentil export figures in 2004 were 1126592 tons, Canada having around 33% share in it. The major exporter countries along with their export figures are

  • Canada (373547 metric tons)

  • Turkey (171186 metric tons)

  • Australia (150316 metric tons)

  • India (136921 metric tons)

  • USA (87552 metric tons)

  • Syria (71037 metric tons)

  • China (37417 metric tons)

  • UAE (36682 metric tons)

  • Nepal (15250 metric tons)

  • Belgium (10614 metric tons)

The total imports of lentil seeds in the world in the year 2004 summed up to 999595 metric tons, Bangladesh standing at the top of the importing countries list having a share of around 11% in the total imports. The imports of this crop are not concentrated but rather diversified among a large umber of countries in the world. The major importing countries along with their importing figures pertaining to the year 2004 are given below

  • Bangladesh (109819 metric tons)

  • Sri Lanka (92619 metric tons)

  • Egypt (88700 metric tons)

  • Colombia (63367 metric tons)

  • Spain (41250 metric tons)

  • Algeria (38923 metric tons)

  • Pakistan (35512 metric tons)

  • Sudan (31888 metric tons)

  • Mexico (30862 metric tons)

  • Italy (27324 metric tons)

  • France (26612 metric tons)

  • India (26567 metric tons)

History

Lentil or masur is one of the earliest and first crops that have ever been cultivated. Lentil originated in the central Asian region in the prehistoric times. It is believed that when human species started to settle and the world saw the development of civilizations, lentil was still being consumed. However the earliest archeological finding in context of lentil is from the Paleolithic and Mesolithic layers of Franchthi caves in Greece that dates back to almost 13000 to 9500 years ago. Other ancient findings are from Syria and Jericho area of Palestine that is almost 8000 years old and from Turkey dating back to around 6700 BC.

Lentil’s importance in the ancient times can be judged by the fact that reference of this food legume is also given in the Bible as the item that Jacob traded to Esau. It is said that the lentil seed size gradually increased, as it was not as big as it is now. It was consumed with wheat and barley in the ancient times and it was popular among the early Greeks. With time it got spread to the European and African continent with the migrations of cultural tribes and people. This old world plantation moved to the new world after it was being discovered. In India, masur was introduced before 1st century AD and it formed an inseparable part of the Indian cuisine in stew form.

Cultivation pattern

Lentil plant is an annual semi erect temperate plant that grows well in the cool growing conditions unlike other major crops that are tropical in nature. Lentil crop yields well if it is grown on a light, fertile and a well-drained soil and the black and alluvial type of soil satisfy all these suitability factors. Regarding the tap root system, this plant has got an extensive root system as the roots of the plant grow as deep as 15 inches as compared to other plants that have roots growing till only 7-8 inches. This feature makes it a moderately drought resistant plant, which thrives on a well-drained soil rather than rainfall. Excessive rainfall or humidity may affect the plantation negatively and may reduce the yield of the crop. Lentil crop takes a period of around 85 days to reach its maturity level and the color of the lower pods of the plant turns brown to yellow brown in color at that time.

In India, masur or lentil is planted in the winter season in the months of November-December and thus is referred as rabi crop. The harvesting period in the country ranges from February and March. The harvested crop starts arriving to the major trading centers in the months April.

Lentil (Masur) producing countries


Lentil is believed to be one of the very first crops that were domesticated and produced in the history of mankind. Till today, the importance of this nutritious crop is the same among the vegetarian population of the world. The global production of lentil has a reached a landmark figure of 40 lakh tons for the first time and is produced in around 50 countries of the world. The major countries that are indulged in the production of this food legume along with their production figures in the year 2005 are

  • Canada (1187600 metric tons)

  • India (1000000 metric tons)

  • Turkey (555000 metric tons)

  • United States of America (231380 metric tons)

  • Australia (169000 metric tons)

  • Nepal (160716 metric tons)

  • China (160000 metric tons)

  • Syria (153665 metric tons)

  • Iran (125000 metric tons)

  • Bangladesh (122000 metric tons)

  • Ethiopia (35275 metric tons)

  • Morocco (35000 metric tons)

  • Pakistan (25800 metric tons)

  • Russia (12000 metric tons)

  • Mexico (8600 metric tons)

  • France (6500 metric tons)

  • Spain (5500 metric tons)

  • Peru (4950 metric tons)

  • Yemen (4500 metric tons)

  • Bulgaria (2100 metric tons)

Canada tops the list with around 30% share and India follows with around 1/4th share in the in the total production in the world. The year 2005 happens to be the first year of Canada’s lead in the list as till the year 2004, India was the largest producer in the context of masur. From the last year onwards, Canada has shown an increase of around 2 lakh tons of lentil produce that helped it snatch the lead from India’s hand. Since the last decade, the world production of lentil has been in relatively stable.

Production of masur in India

Masur production in India has always been important as it is the one of the most important rabi crops in the country. India has been producing lentil since 1st century AD and has always been an important producer of the crop. In fact, India was the largest producer of the masur crop in the world until recently Canada took over the lead leaving India at the second place. Indian production of this crop hovers around 10 lakh metric tons per year that is cultivated on about 14 lakh hectares of land. Masur crop is grown in India in the winter season in the following states

  • Uttar Pradesh

  • Madhya Pradesh

  • Bihar

  • West Bengal

  • Rajasthan

  • Haryana

  • Punjab

  • Assam

  • Maharashtra

Around 90% of the production comes from the top four states in the list pertaining to the eastern and the northern part of the country. The southern part of the country hardly contributes to India’s total production. Uttar Pradesh accounts for the maximum production in the country contributing to around 45% of the country’s production as well as for the maximum area under masur cultivation. The crop is both cultivated as a primary crop and a secondary crop in the country. Sagar, Jabalpur, Bundelkhand and Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh and Kota in Rajasthan are the districts where masur is cultivated primarily.

Indian masur market

Indian subcontinent has a reputation of being an important player in the world’s pulse scenario. Indian economy is largely affected from the fluctuations in world pulse demand and supply, as the country is one of the largest consumers of pulses due to a large population to feed to. In case of masur, India had been quite dominant country in the world production schedule as it was the largest masur producer till 2004 and had been leading since a very long time. Canada took over India’s lead in 2005 with the help of a sharp rise in its production level.

However, India still stands at the second place as far as the world production is concerned producing around 10 lakh tons of masur every year. Uttar Pradesh in India is the state that contributes to around 45% share in the total production. The area, which is utilized in the cultivation of masur in India, sums up to around 14 lakh hectares. India consumes almost 90-95% of its domestic produce to fulfill its domestic consumption demand as one of the most important constituent in the country’s staple diet.

India also indulges in the exports of the left over lentil seeds and stands at fourth position in the major masur exporting countries list with an export figure of 136921 metric tons in the year 2004. The major countries to which India exports masur are

  • Sri Lanka

  • Egypt

  • UAE

  • Sudan

  • Yemen

  • Bangladesh

The country also imports some quantities of the pulse i.e. around 26000 metric tons annually. The trend of imports in India has increased since last few years as well as the value of imports also. The countries from which India imports masur are

  • Canada

  • Australia

  • Turkey

  • United States of America

Market Influencing Factors

  • Weather fluctuations
  • Information flow regarding the supply of the pulse
  • Price movements of the substitute pulses
  • Production level in the main exporting countries

Major trading centers of lentil (masur)


The major trading centers where masur is traded in India are

  • Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh)

  • Rewa (Madhya Pradesh)

  • Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh)

  • Sagar (Madhya Pradesh)

  • Vidisa (Madhya Pradesh)

  • Sultanpur (Uttar Pradesh)

  • Bahraich (Uttar Pradesh)

  • Bhatpara (West Bengal)

  • Rajnandgarh (Chattisgarh)

Also, masur is traded in the various Indian commodity exchanges like Multi Commodity Exchange of India, National Multi Commodity Exchange of India and National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange.

 
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