Red gram or pigeon pea is an important pulse crop of India where it is grown on about 3.5 million hectares.
It is a favourite dhal (tuar or arhar) of Indian cuisine and is suitable for rain fed agriculture because it is drought tolerant, needs minimum inputs and produces reasonable yields .
Over the past 50 years, pigeon pea productivity has not increased in spite of several new varieties being released. To achieve a breakthrough in yield, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) developed an innovative breeding technology to develop commercial hybrids in this crop, the first such attempt in any food legume.
After 25 years of intense research, hybrid ICPH 2671 was developed by ICRISAT, and has been named as ‘Pushkal’. This hybrid is suitable for cultivation in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Launching the hybrid for cultivation, Dr William Dar said that the world is witnessing marked volatility in food and energy prices. Reduced global stocks, climate change, rising human population, natural calamities such as droughts, coupled with speculative response to the market signals are a few reasons for spiralling prices of food and other essential commodities.
The Green Revolution of the 1970s ignored legumes that are a major source of protein in the developing world. At present the protein availability in India is less than one-third of the recommended dietary allowance.
Since the food production balance in India will always remain in favour of cereals, the issue of protein availability assumes greater significance.
Dr. C.L.L. Gowda, Global Theme Leader, Crop Improvement, said that the hybrid seed technology is ready for take off . The major responsibility now is to take this to farmers of rain fed agriculture.
Since small scale and resource poor farmers predominantly cultivate pigeon pea, it will be important to keep the seed cost within the reach of the farmers, he said.
Dr. K.B. Saxena, the scientist behind this breakthrough, said that the new technology promises to break the yield barrier, which has been plaguing Indian agriculture for the past five decades.
For further information, contact Dr. K.B. Saxena, through email: email@example.com