Remunerative crop:Red gram is grown mainly in drylands of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, and the country's annual production is about 2.46 million tonnes.— File photo: Arun Kulkarni
Swapan K. Datta, Deputy Director-General (Crop Science), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), on Sunday told agricultural scientists to utilise the Union government's funds for bridging the gap between potential and actual yield in red gram (toor dal), by utilising new technologies and high-yielding variety of seeds.
Speaking at a three-day Annual Group Meet of All-India Coordinated Research Project on pigeon pea (red gram) at the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Bangalore, Dr. Datta said there was a huge gap between potential and actual yield in red gram in dryland areas. The actual yield in red gram was 700 kg a hectare against the potential of 3 tonne a hectare. Some farmers had obtained yield up to 1,500 kg a hectare in Karnataka. Demonstrations in the private sector had recorded yield of 3 tonnes a hectare, he added.
He said the Indian Institute of Pulses Research (IIPR), Kanpur, and its nine main and 11 sub-branches had not released new variety of red gram seeds in the last three years. About 80 scientists had been associated with the IIPR. Red gram was grown mainly in drylands of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, and the country's annual production was about 2.46 million tonnes.
Noting the challenges before scientists during the 12th Five Year Plan Period (2012-17), the ICAR official said the production of red gram and pulses could be doubled if the States prepared a plan to tap the large production potential with the adoption of better water management practices and technologies in both rainfed and irrigated areas.
But farmers should be supported by appropriate services: input supply, good quality seeds, balanced fertilizer, necessary infrastructure, and above all, assured and remunerative marketing, Dr. Datta said.
N. Nadarajan, Director, IIPR, Kanpur, said he was not satisfied with the progress of work done by the institute and its branches across the country. The main and sub-branches should at least release two and one variety of seeds, respectively, a year to increase red gram production.
The research project on red gram commenced during the Eighth Five Year Plan and on an average Rs. 12 crore a year had been allocated for the research. Scientists should make efforts to find out new high-yielding variety of seeds and pesticides to control diseases affecting red gram crop, he said.
Less labour intensive
K. Narayana Gowda, Vice-Chancellor, UAS, Bangalore, said a large number of dryland farmers preferred red gram crop since it was less labour intensive compared to crops such as ragi. Moreover, farmers get higher income from red gram compared to other crops. But farmers might face shortage of seeds this year due to drought last year in red gram growing taluks, particularly in Gulbarga district, he said.
H. Shivanna, Director of Research, UAS, Bangalore, and M. Byre Gowda, principal scientist on pigeon pea, also spoke.
Delegates from different agricultural institutes from across the country are participating in the meeting which will conclude on Tuesday.