Chickpea Overview

 Scientific name: Cicer arietinum

 Common name: Bengal gram (English) Channa (Hindi)

Chickpea, the world's third-most cultivated legume, holds a position of immense significance in global agriculture and diets. Widely recognized as an essential source of dietary protein, especially in the Global South, chickpea is a staple food for many populations, particularly in South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. With its cultivation spanning over 40 countries, chickpea has become an integral part of food security strategies, ensuring access to affordable and nutritious food.

Notably adapted to the semi-arid tropics, chickpea exhibits remarkable resilience in harsh environmental conditions, including heat and drought. Its high nutritional content, long shelf life, and culinary versatility make it a favorite ingredient in various traditional and modern dishes, further cementing its role in global diets.

Beyond its importance in human nutrition, chickpea cultivation brings significant benefits to agricultural systems. It helps break disease and pest cycles, enhances soil fertility, and promotes crop rotation, reducing dependence on monoculture practices. By contributing to more resilient and productive farming systems, chickpea plays a vital role in sustainable agriculture, supporting both environmental health and economic prosperity.

With its adaptability, nutritional value, and economic significance, chickpea remains a key player in global food systems, fostering human well-being and agricultural sustainability. As we embrace the importance of diverse and resilient crops, chickpea stands as an exemplary model for nourishing communities and fostering a sustainable future for all.


Our Impact

ICRISAT's unwavering commitment to chickpea breeding has led to significant breakthroughs, focusing on developing varieties that are high-yielding and resilient to environmental challenges, especially drought. Through their efforts, the organization has achieved remarkable milestones, some of which include:

 Machine-harvestable chickpea NBeG 47: This innovative variety was developed to enhance harvesting efficiency, reducing the tediousness and high production costs associated with manual harvesting.

 Heat-tolerant and high-yielding variety ICCV 92944: Released in multiple countries, including India, Myanmar, Kenya, and Bangladesh, this improved variety has proven its resilience in challenging climates.

 KAK2: The first large-seeded Kabuli variety released in India, demonstrating ICRISAT's commitment to enhancing chickpea diversity and nutritional value.  

ICRISAT's pioneering work in chickpea research extends beyond variety development. In 2013, the organization led the monumental task of sequencing the first chickpea genome, opening doors for molecular resources that have revolutionized crop improvement efforts. More recently, ICRISAT spearheaded an international collaboration involving 41 organizations to assemble chickpea's pan-genome. The result was the identification of 29,870 genes, including 1,582 previously unreported novel genes, ushering in a new era of chickpea improvement.

Collaborating with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), ICRISAT embarked on developing chickpea varieties suitable for mechanical harvesting. NBeG 47, a desi chickpea variety with a semi-erect growth habit, demonstrated immense promise and suitability for mechanized harvesting. Responding to the growing demand, ICRISAT released two additional machine-harvestable chickpea varieties, ICCV 08102 (RVG 204) and ICCV 08108 (Phule Vikram), in various Indian states.

Through these pioneering efforts, ICRISAT continues to drive chickpea breeding and research forward, enabling greater productivity, resilience, and sustainability for this vital legume. The organization's dedication to advancing chickpea cultivation plays a crucial role in securing food and nutritional security for communities around the world.


Market segments

ICRISAT's dynamic breeding program exemplifies a commitment to excellence by continuously evaluating and updating market segments for each crop, engaging in meaningful consultations with stakeholders. By doing so, the program can effectively prioritize breeding traits that align with current challenges faced by crop production, as well as the preferences of farmers, consumers, processors, and other essential actors along the agri-food value chain.

Presently, the ICRISAT breeding program for chickpea centers on two distinct market segments:

 Desi Chickpea for Food Purposes: This segment caters to a variety of culinary applications, including flour, raw consumption, split dhal, and roasted snacks. To meet the diverse needs of this market, the program prioritizes several key traits, such as maturity duration, grain yield, resistance to Fusarium Wilt, heat tolerance during the reproductive stage, seed size, seed color, and dehulling percentage.

 Kabuli Chickpea for Food Purposes:

This segment focuses on chickpeas utilized in salads, hummus, curries, and various snacks. Recognizing the significance of this market, the breeding program emphasizes traits such as maturity duration, grain yield, resistance to Fusarium Wilt, reproductive stage heat tolerance, and seed color.

By aligning their efforts with the specific demands and preferences of each market segment, ICRISAT's chickpea breeding program enhances its ability to develop superior varieties that cater to the needs of various stakeholders. The pursuit of these critical breeding traits ensures that the resulting chickpea varieties contribute significantly to food security, market demand, and overall sustainability within the agricultural sector.

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