The availability of pulses in the country has been pegged at around 17 million metric tonnes for the year 2015-16, as against the requirement of 20 million metric tonnes. This clearly shows a supply deficit, but the larger picture indicates a drastic drop in per capita protein consumption and thus, a looming malnutrition issue.
Not just for the year, the situation is alarming enough to keep the protein-rich food out of the reach of the poor and the lower middle class people, given the fall in acreage of pulses. Soybean is projected as an elixir in this context, offering solutions to the problems like protein deficiency. Therefore, bridging the demand-supply gap of pulses and thus stabilising prices and, finally, creating a healthier and tastier alternative to pulses are essential.
“Soybean has a role to play in addressing the issue of high prices and relative shortage of pulses. The innovative dal alternative based on soy flour, corn flour, wheat flour and turmeric powder is positioned as an affordable protein,” says M.M. Krishna, Director of the India Soy Food Programme of the US Soybean Export Council (USSEC).
The product was formally launched in Tirupati, targeting the hotels, restaurants and caterers (HoReCa) segment.
“At Rs. 90, a kilogram of soybean containing 300 grams of protein is the cheapest source, with 100 per cent digestibility similar to milk, which is much higher than toor dal, rice or wheat,” says Awesh Jain, head of projects at Ruchi Soya Industries.
The product is widely used under ISKCON’s ‘Annamrutha’ and ‘Akshayapatra’ schemes targeting schoolchildren.