Chickpea and horsegram to grow after rice in eastern India
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|Client-oriented breeding in chickpea and horsegram: improved varieties for eastern India|
Farmers in Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal favour new, early-maturing chickpeas to grow after rice in the post-rainy season. Other qualities they look for are lots of branches and pods, and red seeds that cook well. They like the same qualities in horsegram except that the seeds must be creamy. In these areas of eastern India, chickpea is the main crop planted after monsoon rice and is grown mostly in poor quality soils. But chickpea productivity is very low. The yield of horsegram, grown on degraded hillsides as a late rainy-season crop, is also low. The new varieties perform much better and widely replace old varieties and landraces because farmers were involved in choosing and testing them.
Project Ref: PSP17:
Plant Sciences Research Programme (PSP)
Relevant Research Projects:
R8099, Programme Development and DFID bilateral project
Research Outputs, Problems and Solutions:
Three varieties of chickpea (Birsa Chana 1, 2, 3) were produced by client-oriented breeding (COB) from a cross between an ICRISAT variety and a Bhawanipatna local variety (Table 1). All varieties are of desi bold grain type and suitable for normal and late sowing under rainfed conditions. They are of medium maturity (115 -120 d).
Two varieties of horsegram (Birsa Kulthi 2 and Birsa Kulthi 3) were produced by COB using mutation breeding (Table 1). The mutations were produced in the old variety Birsa Kulthi 1 (BK1) released in 1985 for the Chhotanagpur and Santhal Pargana areas of Jharkhand and southern Bihar. Farmers prefer its creamy grains but it is late to mature (92-97 d).
The new COB varieties have been bred to be highly adapted to farmers’ field conditions following the methods of Witcombe and Virk (2001) and Witcombe et al. (2005). While they are adapted to low input and drought conditions they respond to better inputs and years of higher rainfall and soil with better fertility.
Table 1. Characteristics of chickpea and horsegram varieties produced by COB
In both chickpea and horsegram farmers in eastern India (Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal) grow old and obsolete varieties or poorly performing landraces which are low yielding and susceptible to diseases (Witcombe et al., 1998).
Chickpea: In eastern India, chickpea is the main post-rainy season (rabi) crop and is grown as a rainfed crop by farmers in low-fertility fields. Chickpea productivity is very low, averaging below 1 t ha-1.
Horsegram: Poor farmers grow horsegram on sloping, degraded lands as a late rainy-season crop in the ‘left over’ fields where they could not sown an earlier crop. It provides additional nutritious food grain legume and quality fodder to the animals. Farmers only grow landraces and these are very low yielding and late maturing. Farmers do not grow released varieties as all of them mature late and hence are prone to end-of-season drought.
This output is focused on chickpea and horsegram. Both crops also fit well with rice-based production systems. The process of COB can be applied to all food crops where plant breeding is economically feasible (PSP34).
There are many outputs that this could be clustered with including:
It also fits well with the following RNRRS projects:
How the outputs were validated:
How validated: When the outputs from COB become fixed and pure-breeding they are tested with farmers in participatory varietal trials (PVS). In this case, the PVS stage was not reached due to the termination of funding of the PSP and the East India Rainfed Farming Project managed by the GVT (funded by DFID-India). This also meant that wider dissemination of COB varieties of chickpea and horsegram varieties could not be done because of a shortage of seed. Nevertheless, farmers’ evaluation of COB varieties during their formative stage was crucial and indicative of their acceptance. The target groups of farmers for the COB varieties are mainly resource-poor farmers in the villages where the GVT operates and included all categories of farmers and social groups (resource-rich and resource-medium including women farmers).
Farmers selected for earlier maturity in chickpea to be grown as a rainfed rabi crop after rice in the post-rainy season. They also preferred taller plants with more branches and pods, desi type seeds with red colour and good cooking quality.
In horsegram, farmers preferred more branches and pods per plant, earlier maturity, and taller plants together with creamy seeds and good cooking quality.
Who validated: Validation was carried out by researchers and farmers jointly during various stages of COB. Validation was done by dozens of farmers of several villages in Jharkhand where GVT east operates. The breeding process was jointly undertaken by BAU, GVT and CAZS-NR in collaboration with farmers. Various organisations that helped in the validation of products were:
The new varieties of chickpea were validated in 6 research trials from 2004-05 to 2005-06 and in the All India Coordinated Chickpea Improvement Project (AICCIP) in 2005-06 (Table 2). The horsegram varieties were tested in BAU and GVT trials in 2004 trials and in the All India Coordinated Project trials in 2004 05 in about 16 to 20 locations (Table 2).
Table 2. Details of testing of chickpea and horsegram varieties by BAU and GVT in Jharkhand, India
Data from All India Coordinated Trials for chickpea and horsegram were not available.
Increases in productivity: Very high increases in grain yield were generally obtained for all varieties not only over the local variety but also against the modern varieties. Grain yield increases in the research trials from COB varieties of chickpea over the modern variety check were 21 to 50% (Table 2). In horsegram the grain yield increases over BK 1, the check variety, were about 10%.
The new varieties also excelled in many traits other than grain yield particularly in relation to earlier maturity, drought-tolerance and farmer-preferred seed type and colour (Table 3).
Table 3. Some of the additional features of new varieties
Where the Outputs were Validated:
The outputs were validated in the semi-arid system of small holder in rainfed dry systems. All testing was carried out under rainfed conditions.
The outputs were validated by BAU and GVT in research trials in Jharkhand. They were also validated in the All India Coordinated Projects trials at research stations spread over the whole country where these crops are grown. For validation in the All India Coordinated Trials several State Agricultural Universities were involved in dozens of trials over several years. Evaluation by dozens of farmers from Jharkhand was also done through BAU and GVT in on-station trials. This primarily involved resource-poor farmers from the villages where GVT operates and also included women farmers.
Who are the Users?
The outputs are being used by BAU and GVT for testing and promotion. In addition, seed of new varieties has gone to several locations in the All India Coordinated Projects.
Farmers who took part in the evaluation of trials on station requested the seed for on-farm evaluation but seed could not be given to them because of shortage of supplies. However, a small quantity of seed (about 500g) of these varieties will be given in the next years to many farmers in three states where GVT operates for testing. PVS are also planned by GVT in the near future.
Seed production through the official channels is always constrained for the pre-released varieties because of the risk that the variety is not ultimately recommended. However, NGOs and private sector can produce truthfully-labelled seed and this is planned by GVT.
Where the outputs have been used:
The outputs are expected to be adopted by the farmers of the semi-arid system.
Chickpea is grown by poor farmers following rice and is an important post-rainy season (rabi) crop that is grown as a rainfed crop by farmers in low-fertility fields. Chickpea grows well in the rainfed rabi fallows after rice with little irrigation.
Horsegram is grown in the rainfed uplands of Jharkhand, Orissa, and W. Bengal. It is grown in fallow uplands where other rainy season crops could not be grown due to inadequate rains or late onset of rains or where the crop had failed due to lack of moisture. In the un-irrigated uplands when rains are receding horsegram normally does not follow any crop and no winter season crop is grown after it. However, the variety identified has not spread because of little dissemination of either knowledge or seed. Horsegram in Jharkhand is grown on 29,000 ha with production of 22,000 t (0.75 t ha-1).
The outputs have not yet reached a large number of farmers but are being used in the rainfed uplands of Jharkhand by a limited number of farmers who had access to a small quantity of seed of pre-released varieties from BAU.
The BAU in Ranchi is using un-released outputs in research for further validation and release by the formal system. The new varieties will enter into seed chain after their release.
Scale of Current Use:
The present coverage of varieties is negligible.
Policy and Institutional Structures, and Key Components for Success:
The promotion of chickpea and horsegram varieties in these poor parts of eastern India has been inefficient as the areas are remote, the purchasing capacity of the farmers is low, and the demand for seed unpredictable because it varies with the rains. Farmers also have limited access to the government extension services. They should visit the local farm science centre (KVK) but few farmers have the resources to do so. Frontline demonstrations by Departments of Agriculture are few and conducted in more favourable agricultural environments. Hence, the main activities for dissemination of seed have been through projects such as the Eastern India Rainfed Farming (EIRFP) which has now ended. The ongoing programmes include State Agricultural Universities, State Departments of Agriculture, Poorest Area Civil Society Programme (PACS) of Govt India supported by DFID, several NGOs who have dissemination programmes, village level farmers’ cooperatives and groups, self help groups of GVT, village Panchayats, Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), National Agricultural Banking for Rural Development (NABARD), National Agricultural Marketing Federation (NAFAD), Council for Promotion on Rural Technology (CAPAT).
There is a system of seed supply of released varieties that depends on multiplication by the State Seed Corporations and the National Seeds Corporation. This system has not yet been geared up for the COB varieties of chickpea and horsegram. However, seed is only produced on demand and few organisations are in a position to place orders for expensive seed. The farmers themselves have little or no influence over official demand so the needs of farmers does not get translated into demand for seed production.
Lessons Learned and Uptake Pathways
Promotion of Outputs:
The current promotion is very limited and is being undertaken by BAU and GVT but as the varieties are not released any promotion will be through informal channels.
Once sufficient seed is available the GVT-east intend to promote the new varieties in conjunction with agricultural universities and departments of agriculture. The GVT-east directly operates in 13 districts of Jharkhand (Ranchi, Palamu, Hazaribagh, West Singhbhum, Kharsavan, Goda, Gumla, and Bukaro), Orissa (Dhenkanal, Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj) and West Bengal (Midnapur and Purulia) for the improvement of the livelihoods of 0.4 m people majority of whom have:
Despite several GOs and NGOs being interested in promoting new seeds of various crops little attention is given to the promotion of minor food legumes such as chickpea and horsegram.
Potential Barriers Preventing Adoption of Outputs:
Chickpea is an ‘orphan’ crop and (1) seed can only be produced in the rabi season for the following rabi season so expensive seed, that is vulnerable to storage pests, has to be stored throughout the rainy season, (2) it has a low seed multiplication rate and (3) the high value and high volume (bulk) of chickpea seed increases the investment and costs of seed storage.
Horsegram is also an ‘orphan crop’ being cultivated by very poor people on marginal lands that could not be sown by the usual rainy season crops. The seed production of horsegram is constrained due to its photosensitive behaviour that makes its off-season seed multiplication difficult in Jharkhand. However, the seed rate of horsegram is low (20 kg ha-1) compared to chickpea (60 kg ha-1) making it more suitable for large scale dissemination.
Farmers have limited resources to visit the local farm science centre (KVK). Frontline demonstrations by Departments of Agriculture are few and in more favourable agricultural environments.
Seed production by GOs is dependent on actual orders for seed (called indents) and the poor farmers cannot raise indents. GOs responsible for producing seed, such as the State Agricultural Universities, will not do so without an indent and the Department of Agriculture, and the extension system do not place indents unless they are aware of it and know there is a demand for seed.
How to Overcome Barriers to Adoption of Outputs:
The most important factor to remove the barriers is to raise awareness of them at all levels (State Agricultural Universities, NGOs, Departments of Agriculture and the private sector) and this could include the packaging of many new technologies together (see for example Witcombe and Yadavendra, 2006).
In addition to awareness, the following will help in removing some of the barriers. Capacity building:
The Indian pulse mission identified the following policy changes to make pulse cultivation more remunerative:
Using Rogers (2003) diffusion of information as a framework for the lessons learnt:
Hence provision of a sustainable seed supply is the most important factor in getting this research into use. In “How to Overcome Barriers to Adoption of Outputs”, key factors were identified that includes awareness raising amongst all of the stakeholders in the innovation system, and the role of the non-formal private sector in sustainable seed supply.
Impacts On Poverty
Poverty Impact Studies:
With the completion of DFID funded Eastern India Rainfed Farming Project and the PSP there was little time to study the impact of new chickpea and horsegram varieties as they were bred in the last years of the programme. The impact study was also constrained as there was no time for large-scale seed production and distribution. However, the strong preferences of farmers for these varieties is an indication of their potential widespread acceptance and impact They ranked high in focus group discussions and matrix ranking during the on-station evaluations.
How the Poor have Benefited (including gender and other poverty groups):
The provision of cheaper proteins improves the nutrition of poor farmers who would be able to have more often a nutritious dhal with the daily meal of rice, maize or wheat.
The new varieties of chickpea yield 21 to 50% and the horsegram varieties 10% more than the check varieties. The increased yields increase food security and the purchasing power of the poor farmers and their living standards. There are other positive effects on the overall improvements of livelihoods of the poor people such as:
All categories of target farmers benefit from the increased yields. They include male and female farmers from all social groups representing resource-rich, medium and poor farmers, and also all castes (including lower castes). Since women take part in evaluation of varieties they also benefit from selection of varieties that had traits of their liking. Cultivation of superior cultivars will empower women in decision making because of their increased role storage, marketing and processing.
Direct and Indirect Environmental Benefits:
Direct and indirect benefits:
Adverse Environmental Impacts:
Coping with the Effects of Climate Change, or Risk from Natural Disasters:
Evenson, R.E & Gollin, D. (2003): Assessing the Impact of the Green Revolution, 1960 to 2000. Science 300: 758 – 762.
Rogers, E.M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations. 5th Edition. New York: Free Press.
Witcombe, J.R. & Virk, D.S. (2001). Number of crosses and population size for participatory and classical plant breeding. Euphytica 122:451-462.
Witcombe, J.R., Joshi, K.D., Gyawali, S., Musa, A. M., Johansen, C., Virk, D.S. & Sthapit B.R. (2005). Participatory Plant Breeding is Better Described as Highly Client-Oriented Plant Breeding. I. Four Indicators of Client-Orientation in Plant Breeding. Experimental Agriculture 41: 299-319.
Witcombe, J.R. & Yadavendra, J.P. (2006). Cultivating partnership: better choices for rainfed farming. Gramin Vikas Trust, India.
Relevant Research Projects, with links to the