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Improving Chickpea productivity by breaking unholy alliance between seed size & yield

Chickpea is the premier pulse crop of the Indian Sub-continent. India is the largest chickpea producer and consumer in the world. India grows chickpea in an area of 9.21 million ha area producing 8.22 million tonnes (2010-11) which represents 35% and 44% of the national pulse average acreage and production, respectively.

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Different varieties of Chickpeas
Different varieties of Chickpeas

Chickpea is the premier pulse crop of the Indian Sub-continent. India is the largest chickpea producer and consumer in the world. India grows chickpea in an area of 9.21 million ha area producing 8.22 million tonnes (2010-11) which represents 35% and 44% of the national pulse average acreage and production, respectively.

During the last five decades, chickpea production has increased significantly ( 3.53 average annual growth rate for 1950-2009) which is primarily due to the introduction of high yielding and disease-resistant varieties and the adoption of improved production technologies. Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi has been a pioneer of chickpea breeding in the country. The initial efforts made at this centre resulted in the development of four pure lines NP 17, NP 25, NP 28 and NP 58.

The formal chickpea breeding history at IARI and India can be traced back to the beginning of 1967 onwards with the setup of the All India Coordinated Pulse Improvement Programme (AICPIP) in 1967 with its headquarters and pulse breeding unit at IARI. Among all the centres IARI played a crucial role in chickpea breeding with its varieties occupying a major area in the country.

Large seeded Kabuli types have more consumer preference and hence fetch premium prices to the farmers. The bold seeded chickpeas are used as green vegetables, parched, fried, roasted and boiled as snack food and chole, sprouted seeds are eaten as a vegetable or added to salads. However, till recently the large-seeded chickpea varieties were not available to the farmers. Approximately one million tonnes of chickpea are imported by Government, private organizations and other agencies (The official figure shows that chickpea import in India is about half a million tone.

Fortunately the trading of extra-large seeded kabuli types is dominating the international market. The premium price of more than US $ 1000 per tonne is offered in international trading for extra large seeded kabuli types whereas for medium seeded kabuli types is about US $600 per tonne and for desi medium seeded types the prices range between US $ 400-500 per tone. Thus there is a great potential of breeding for extra-large seeded kabuli types.

In desi type there is a demand of varieties with seed size more than 20g/100 seeds and in kabuli type more than 40 g /100 seeds. In the development of bold seeded chickpea, IARI has taken a lead by developing bold seeded varieties in both desi and kabuli types. During 1990’s a decision was taken in the All India Coordinated Research Project on Chickpea (AICRP) that the minimum seed weight of kabuli chickpea varieties for release should be 25g/100 seeds. Subsequently, IARI was the first to develop a kabuli variety Pusa 1003 in 1996 having seed size of 25g.

Thereafter, to meet the demand of extra-large seeded kabuli chickpea, AICRP started a separate trial for extra-large seeded kabuli chickpea. Again IARI was the first to develop the first extra-bold seeded kabuli variety Pusa 1053 (Pusa Chamatkar) in 1999 with 100-seed weight 30g. With continued increasing demand of large seeded kabuli chickpeas, IARI developed a variety Pusa 5023 in 2008 having 100-seed weight of 40-42g.  In desi chickpea category also IARI has developed the first extra-large seeded desi chickpea variety Pusa 5028 in 2008 having 100-seed weight of 40g. Recently CVRC released Pusa 3022 for NWPZ which is extra large seeded kabuli type and a high yielding Pusa 3043, a desi type variety for North East Plain Zone.  These bold seeded varieties of desi and kabuli types have yield potential of 20-25 q/ha with moderate resistance to wilt and root rot diseases.

Besides leadership in bold seeded chickpea development in India, IARI is leader in development of total number of chickpea varieties which is 29 at present. IARI chickpea breeding program is first in the world to develop a chickpea variety (Pusa 1103 in 2005) through interspecific hybridization utilizing wild relative Cicer reticulatum.

Popular chickpea varieties from IARI

Kabuli Type

Pusa 1053 (Pusa Chamatkar):

It was released in 2000 for the northern and central zone (Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, U.P., M.P., Chattisgarh, Maharashtra, and Gujarat). It is suited to both rainfed and irrigated conditions with an average seed yield of 25 q/ha. 100-seed weight of Pusa Chamatkar is 30g. It is resistant to soil-borne diseases.

Pusa 128 (Pusa Subhra)

It was released in 2007 for central India (Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra, Gujarat, Bundelkhand parts of Uttar Pradesh, and adjoining parts of Rajasthan). It is suitable for irrigated and late sown conditions. It is medium duration, bold seeded, moderately resistant to wilt, root rot, and stunt. It has wide adaptation and has an average yield of 20 q/ha. Due to its semi-erect growth habit, it is suitable for mechanical harvesting.

Pusa 2024

It was released in 2008 for the National Capital Region of Delhi. It is suitable for both rainfed and irrigated conditions. 100-seed weight is 30g and the average yield is 30 q/ha. It is moderately resistant to soil-borne diseases.

Pusa 2085

It is a large-seeded Kabuli chickpea variety with a 100 seed weight of 36 g and its average yield is 20 q/ha with a genetic yield potential of more than 30 q/ha. It has resistance against dry root rot and stunt; moderately resistant to wilt and botrytis gray mold and is tolerant to collar rot. The seeds are beige-colored, uniform, attractive and shining. It has been developed using multiple hybridizations having diverse parents for a wider genetic base, stability, and adaptability.

Pusa 5023 (Pusa Shaktiman)

Pusa 5023 was released in 2010 for cultivation in rainfed and irrigated areas of Delhi and adjoining states in northern India. It is the first extra-large seeded Kabuli variety released in India with a 100-seed weight of 40g and an average yield of 20 q/ha. It is moderately resistant to soil-borne diseases. The seed quality is excellent for cooking, table, and culinary purposes.

Pusa 3022

It has been released by CVRC in 2017. It’s an Extra-large seeded Kabuli chickpea developed through desi x Kabuli introgression and has been identified for release in NWPZ. It has a 100-seed weight of 36 g with an average grain yield of 1.8 t / ha which is 10.4 % higher than the best check.  Yield potential is up to 3 t/ha.

Desi type

Pusa 3043

A high-yielding desi chickpea variety has been released in 2018 for NEPZ. It has an average yield of 1.7t/ha and is 145 days duration and has moderate resistance to Fusarium wilt, dry root rot and, Aschochyta blight, and tolerance to botrytis grey mold.

Pusa 5028 (Pusa Bheema)

It was released in 2010 In Desi chickpea types no variety of extra-large seeded types has been released in the world which has 100-seed weight more than 40g. Variety Pusa 5028 is the first Desi extra-large seeded variety in India having a 100-seed weight of more than 40g. The net profit with the cultivation of this variety will be significantly higher than other Desi varieties. This variety is suitable for cultivation in rainfed and irrigated areas of Delhi and adjoining states in northern India. It is moderately resistant to soil-borne diseases. Seeds of BG 5028 are attractive and light brown in color. The seed quality is excellent for cooking, table, and culinary purposes.

BGD 72 (Pusa Dharwad Pragati)

It was released in 1999 for central India. It is a medium-duration variety suitable for rainfed conditions. It is bold seeded, moderately resistant to root diseases, drought-tolerant, yields 17-22 q/ha.

Pusa 1103

It is the first chickpea variety developed through interspecific hybridization released in 2005 for the National Capital Region of Delhi. It is medium bold seeded, suitable for late planting, and yields 20-24 q/ha. It possesses resistance against wilt, root rot, and bruchids. Suitable for rice-based cropping system in Northern India.

IARI develops the first green seeded chickpea variety ‘Pusa Green 112’ Pusa Green 112 is a drought-tolerant green seeded chickpea variety having resistance to Fusarium wilt, dry root rot, and stunt. Seeds are dark green, uniform, excellent for cooking and culinary purpose. It is suitable for NCR, Delhi, and adjoining areas for both Rainfed and Irrigated, timely sown conditions. Its average yield is 23 q/ha and has a yield potential of 27 q/ha.

Written By

Dr. C. Bharadwaj
Principal Scientist
Chickpea Breeding & Molecular Breeding Programme,
Division of Genetics,
Indian Agricultural Research Institute,
Pusa, New Delhi 110 012.

Dr. Shailesh Tripathi

Dr. S. K. Chauhan

Dr. Sangeeta Mehrotra

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