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Climate-Resistant Chickpea Varieties

  • 30 Apr 2019
  • 4 min read

An international team led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has discovered important factors for heat and drought tolerance in chickpea.

  • The study has identified four important genes for heat tolerance and three important genes for drought tolerance.
  • The study was based on complete genome sequencing of 429 chickpea lines from 45 countries.
    • By using such genomics-assisted breeding approach, the time taken to produce a new heat- and drought-tolerant chickpea variety can be halved from about eight to four years.
  • The study has found that chickpea originated in the Mediterranean/south-west Asia and migrated to south Asia.
    • It reached India about two centuries ago, apparently through Afghanistan.
  • The study provides insights into chickpea’s genetic diversity, domestication too.

Advantages

  • World is already witnessing increase in temperature because of climate change. So a new variety with heat and drought tolerance will be highly useful to Indian farmers.
  • In India, chickpea is generally sown in September-October and harvested in January-February.
    • When heat-tolerant chickpeas are developed in future, farmers in India may have a possibility to go in for a second round of cropping.
    • Though the yield will be less for the second crop, farmers will still stand to gain.

Chickpea

  • Chickpea grain is an excellent source of high-quality protein, with a wide range of essential amino acids , but low in fat. The crop also fixes relatively large amounts of atmospheric nitrogen.
  • More than 90% of chickpea cultivation area is in South Asia, including India.
    • India is by far the world largest producer but is also the largest importer.
  • Chickpeas are susceptible to several major diseases and insect pests and yields can fall precipitously if the crop is exposed to extreme temperatures or drought.
    • Globally, more than 70% yield is lost due to drought and increasing temperatures.
  • Chickpea is a winter season crop, so in general any further increase in temperature is expected to further reduce the yield.

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics

  • The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is a non-profit, non-political organization that conducts agricultural research for development in the drylands of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
  • It was founded in 1972 and is headquartered in Hyderabad, Telangana State, in India, with two regional hubs (Nairobi, Kenya and Bamako, Mali).
  • ICRISAT conducts research on six highly nutritious drought-tolerant crops, also known as Smart Food: Chickpea, Pigeonpea, Pearl Millet, Finger Millet, Sorghum, and Groundnut.
    • Smart Food is food that is define as good for consumer, the planet and the farmer, and is one of the solutions that contributes to addressing all these issues in unison.
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