"There is a lot of pulses problem these days. We cannot produce much of tur dal, but we have a huge soya crop. We take pulses for protein. Why don't we go for soya products like soya milk, tofu and reconstituted soya dals," Gulati said at an event organised by National Skills Foundation of India.

Soya has 40 percent protein, while pulses have only 20 percent protein, he said while emphasising the need to treat soya as protein crop and innovation in food-processing.

At present, soya crop in the country is grown as an oilseed crop, he added. Gulati, former Chairman of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) and a Padma Shri awardee, was speaking on Technologies and innovation in agriculture: pushing the frontiers.

Pulses prices have risen unabated due to fall in domestic production by two million tonnes in 2014-15 crop year (July-June) due to poor rains. Retail prices of tur and urad are ruling up to Rs 190-200 per kg.

CACP Chairman Ashok Vishandaas said retail prices of pulses have gone up to Rs 220 per kg, but farmers are still suffering as they are not getting the right price. The pulses problem has aggravated because of increased focus on rice and wheat production, he added.

Emphasising the need to raise productivity of farm labourers, Vishandaas said that around 50 per cent of the population depends on agriculture, contributing only 13.8 percent to the country's GDP.

"This means, we are under-utilising our labourers. Can we move them out of agriculture and equip them with other skills?" he said.

Echoing similar views, UN body FAO India representative Shyam Khadka said only 2.3 per cent of the country's farmers are professionally trained, as against 96 per cent in Korea,75 per cent  in Germany and 53 per cent in the US.

More skills are required to be taught to farmers, especially in the area of post-harvesting, food processing and animal husbandry, among others, he said.

Gulati also talked about innovation in agriculture sector that is competitive, inclusive, sustainable and scalable, while citing examples of the success of Bt cotton, maize and Pusa basmati rice.

Stating that new farm technologies in future are going to come more from private sector, Gulati said the sector will not bring in technology for free and diffusion of these technologies in India would be difficult if intellectual property right is not protected.

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