24 Dec 2015
No. 1707




New hybrid and varieties of pigeonpea released by Telangana, India

(L) Mr Ramaswami, in ICPL 14003 field in Ramapuram village, Mahabubnagar district. (R) Ms Nirmala, in ICPL 332 WR field in Tandur village, Rangareddy district. Photo: R Vijay Kumar, ICRISAT

The state varietal release committee of Telangana released a pigeonpea hybrid and two varieties developed by ICRISAT specifically suited for different agroecologies across the state.

ICPH 2740 – released under the name Mannem Konda Kandi – is the first pigeonpea hybrid for the state of Telangana. It was released from the Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS), Palem, Mahabubnagar district. The hybrid possess resistance to wilt and sterility mosaic diseases and is suitable for deep black soils of the state. With a yield potential of 3.5 tons per ha it registered a 40% yield increase over the local cultivars.

ICPL 14003 (PRG 176) was released from the Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS), Palem, Mahabubnagar district, under the name Ujwala. The variety has yield potential of 2.5 tons per ha and matures in 130 days. It is resistant to terminal drought and is suitable for light chalka soils (light red soils with low water retention) of Mahabubnagar, Nalgonda and Rangareddy districts. 

ICPL 332 WR (TDRG 4) was released by the name Hanuma from Agricultural Research Station, Tandur, Rangareddy district. This variety has a yield potential of 3 tons per ha and is suitable for sandy loam soils. It is resistant to wilt and tolerant to Helicoverpa.

Research collaboration with Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University led to the development and release of the above varieties and hybrid. The released varieties and hybrid are preferred by traders owing to their high dal (split pigeonpea) recovery percentage, milling and organo-leptic attributes.

Agroecology-specific varieties

The released varieties are well suited to the soil type and rainfall pattern of each agroecology in the state. In addition their high yields and disease resistance will enhance productivity and incomes for the smallholder farmer. There are three distinct agroecologies in the state (i) areas with annual rainfall <700 mm with light chalka soils in Mahbubnagar and Nalgonda districts, (ii) areas with annual rainfall <900 mm with red sandy soils in Khammam, Warangal, Medak, Nizamabad and Rangareddy districts and (iii) areas with black to heavy black soils with annual rainfall ranging from 800 to 1000 mm in Adilabad, Rangareddy, Medak, Nizamabad and Khammam districts.

Seed production

Massive seed production of these improved varieties and hybrids have been launched through a collaboration of ICRISAT, state agricultural universities, state seed development corporations, National Seeds Corporation, departments of agriculture, NGOs, progressive farmers and private seed companies. These efforts resulted in the production of 657 tons of hybrid seed in kharif 2014 and 507 tons of hybrid seed in 2015 season. For 2016 it is planned to produce 700 tons of hybrid seed which can cover 140,000 ha. The governments of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha are distributing the hybrid seed to farmers on subsidized basis.

Pigeonpea is an important crop in Telangana cultivated in more than 350,000 ha. It is an integral component of rainfed cropping systems and is cultivated by small and marginal farmers either as a sole crop and intercropped with castor, sorghum, maize, mung bean, soybean and cotton. Low productivity (around 500 kg per ha for the last 5 decades) and susceptibility to wilt and sterility mosaic diseases which are endemic in the state constrain smallholder farmers.

Pigeonpea is cultivated in nearly 4 million ha in India. There are distinct agroecologies similar to Telangana in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Gujarat. Pigeonpea hybrids are already gaining momentum in these states. These varieties and hybrid can be further expanded to other states to enhance productivity and to combat climate change.


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Year of soils

2015 was the UN International Year of Soils which helped highlight why soils are important for both food security and maintaining the earth’s ecosystem. In the latest series of 100 Voices videos, experts speak about the threats to soil quality  and how degraded soils can be nursed back to health to create and maintain sustainable soil and land management systems in the semi-arid tropics.

Soil plays a most important part in not only making water available or natural resources available… forests, biodiversity, wildlife… everything!   But at the same time soil needs attention. The whole purpose of this Year of the Soils is to draw the attention of policymakers, organisations, civil society and farmers that they start attending to the health of soils carefully for their own survival!

Dr Prem Sharma
Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

I think can a lot can be done and lot can learned from the developed countries where there is lot of care and emphasis on the quality of the soils. I come from Czech Republic where the agriculture is generally on a very high level. They still maintain the rotations… they know which crop can be rotated with what, when you grow some type of the crop, how many years after that (does) the gap have to be taken, how many fallows have to be put when you grow certain things to attain highest possible production and not overexploit the richness of the soils.

Dr Jana Kholova

Scientist - Cereals
Physiology, ICRISAT

What we need to understand today as we look for more food production, as we look for more increased ecosystem services, what are the limitations of the soils? But also what are the opportunities… recognizing that many soils could actually produce more; there are in fact many soils that could be restored to support not only food production but also biodiversity conservation and other ecosystem services.

Dr Jeffrey E Herrick
Soil Scientist, US Department of Agriculture, Mexico

Groundnut crop can be grown in highly degraded desert soils.   For example in Bikaner, Rajasthan, groundnut cultivation is expanding under sprinkler irrigation and the farmers are able to get huge profits from groundnut cultivation in the desert soils otherwise unfit for cultivation.

Dr Janila Pasupuleti
Senior Scientist, Groundnut
Breeding, ICRISAT

View the 100 Voices video interviews – http://www.icrisat.org/icrisat-100voices-soils.htm

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National Chickpea Innovation Platform: Way forward in Ethiopia

Dr Asnake Fikre leads the establishment of national chickpea
innovation platform. Photo: ICRISAT

Bringing together all actors in the chickpea value chain was a key focus for setting up a National Chickpea Innovation Platform. Other new initiatives include enhancing chickpea productivity and marketing based on the targets of the Ethiopian Growth and Transformation Plan 2 (GTP2) and enhancing household consumption for nutrition and food security– were discussed at a recent workshop in Ethiopia.


Participants generally agreed that chickpea has made remarkable increase in productivity over the last decade but has not reached its potential. Notably, chickpea productivity in Israel is 6.1 tons per ha, the highest in the world. The GTP2 has set a target of increasing the average productivity of chickpea from the current 1.91 tons per ha to 2.8 tons per ha and the total production from the current 0.45 million tons to 0.69 million tons by 2020.

Opportunities for achieving this goal include:

  • Double cropping with cereals (tef, wheat, barley, maize and rice);
  • Production in niches currently not being used;
  • Increasing the number of chickpea processors;
  • Involvement of research and development institutions to tackle biotic and abiotic stresses and design improved agronomic practices;
  • Enhanced adoption of improved varieties and their production packages;
  • Growing demand in major export destinations thus assuring farmers a market for their produce;
  • Proximity to African (Egypt and Sudan), European and Middle Eastern markets relative to competitors such as Mexico, Canada and Australia;
  • The ‘Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa’ (SITA), a project linking Indian investors with African legume farmers.


Many constraints along the chickpea value chain were also identified by the participants.

  • Most international markets demand larger seed of uniform size. Produce from Ethiopia is of low quality (small grain size, mixed and impure) and faces strong competition from other chickpea exporting countries (Australia, Canada, Mexico).
  • Current varieties lack traits of interest such as combining high yield, mechanized production and harvesting, market preferences and pest/disease resistance as well as tolerance to abiotic stress factors.
  • Chickpea has received limited attention in terms of input supply especially fertilizers; only limited efforts have been put on improvement and exploitation of biological nitrogen fixation capacity.
  • Chickpea is considered a secondary crop after investment in the main cereal crop. It faces stiff competition for resources, inputs and labor from cereals (tef, barley and wheat) which have better yields, allow mechanized operations and fetch better prices.
  • Relative to cereals, chickpea does not receive sufficient attention by the national and regional extension systems.
  • Technologies for effective cereal-chickpea double cropping are inadequate; major cereal production areas are under mechanized production while mechanization of chickpea production is still in rudimentary stages. 
  • Supply of seed of improved varieties is limited.
  • Limited value addition in terms of scale and level and associated price volatility in the local (and export) market.

Strategic interventions

  • The stakeholders identified strategic interventions, some of which are currently being undertaken through various projects while others are seen as gaps.
  • Developing and disseminating stable varieties that combine high yield and resistance to biotic and abiotic stress as well as mechanized production.
  • Development and promotion of integrated crop management practices suitable for chickpea production in different cropping systems (integrated soil fertility management, rhizobia inoculants, soil moisture management, integrated pest and disease management). 
  • Strengthen the capacity of national and regional researchers for chickpea crop improvement (breeding, agronomy, mechanization, seed multiplication and post-harvest handling).
  • Strengthen/establish chickpea seed producing farmers groups and cooperatives besides building the capacity of seed enterprises and other informal and semi-formal sector players to produce and distribute quality chickpea seed.
  • For early generation seed supply, Ethiopian Seed Enterprises (ESE) as well as regional seed enterprises should be encouraged to produce and avail basic seed
    of chickpea. The public and private seed sector should be encouraged to produce chickpea seed in rotation with cereals.
  • To promote mechanization, the government should encourage service providers to identify, introduce and test pre- and postharvest farm machinery prototypes and technologies (planter, cultivator, harvester and thresher) and facilitate local industries to fabricate and manufacture farm machinery.
  • To enhance consumption, and thereby increase demand, it was recommended to develop and promote different recipes and products of chickpea.
  • To fill the gap on market information, the need for regular socio-economic and market surveys was underscored.   
Participants at the workshop. Photo: ICRISAT

The national chickpea innovation platform will be led by the Directorate of Crops Research, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR). It will work through thematic working groups: seed systems, marketing and value addition, production, nutrition and gender and theme leaders will be members of a steering committee under the leadership of the Director of Crops Research, EIAR. The members agreed to meet twice a year and the operational resources of the platform will be shared among partners. A 6-member task force was formed to fast-track the operationalization of the activities of the platform. The members of the task force are: Dr Mekasha Chichaybelu, Tropical Legumes III (TLIII) National Coordinator, EIAR;  Dr Chris Ojiewo, Senior Scientist - Legumes Breeding, ICRISAT, Dr Sheleme Beyene, PI, Scaling-up Pulse Innovations for Food and Nutrition Security in Southern Ethiopia, Hawassa University; Dr Daniel Dawuro, Director, Legumes Value Chain, Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA); Dr Abdul Sammed, Director Regulatory and Input Services, Ministry of Agriculture & Natural Resource (MoANR), and Dr Yohannes Assefa, Secretary, Ethiopian Pulses, Oilseeds and Spices Processors-Exporters Association (EPOSPEA). The membership of the platform was mapped to various stakeholders including those not represented during the meeting.

In his opening remarks, Dr Asnake Fikre, Director of Crops Research, EIAR, said, “My pride as the Director of Crops Research is not about the huge number of projects operating in the country or on a crop, but the impact created. As such it is important for the stakeholders to talk to one another to avoid duplication.”

Dr Tracy Powell, Agricultural Development Officer, USAID-Ethiopia, emphasized the need for various development partners to work together with chickpea stakeholders for better synergies and more efficient resource utilization. She singled out the need for USAID-supported projects to work with TLIII project on an integrated seed sector development. Dr Amsale Mengistu, Senior Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation office in Ethiopia, expressed satisfaction with the Tropical Legumes Project (Phases I and II). She emphasized the need to form innovative partnerships with likeminded stakeholders and players in the chickpea value chain to enhance the gains made so far and make even greater impacts by filling the gaps through the on-going TLIII project.

Dr Emmanuel Monyo, TL III Project Coordinator, ICRISAT, reiterated continued commitment of the project to realizing the common agenda and outlined how TL III is well integrated into the 2020 vision of the GTP2.

The workshop was held in Debre-Zeit from 8-10 Dec. Participants included representatives from international organizations (International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and ICRISAT), national organizations (EIAR-Debre Zeit, EIAR-Melkassa); regional organizations (Oromia, Tigray, Amhara, Sothern); research institutes; MoANR; Regional Bureaus of Agriculture; ESE; ATA; Hawassa University; processors/traders/exporters (Agricultural Commodities Supplies); private seed companies (BaleGreen); and post-harvest handlers. 


Project: Tropical Legumes III

Inverstor: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Partners: CIAT, IITA, EIAR, other NARS in sub-Saharan Africa

CGIAR Research Program: Grain Legumes

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Dr Abhishek Rathore, Senior Scientist, Breeding Informatics Unit, has been awarded with the prestigious Dr DN Lal Memorial Lecture Award of Indian Society of Agricultural Statistics (ISAS) for his significant contribution in the field of statistics, biometrics and bioinformatics.

This award is a biannual award and given for outstanding work in the field of statistics.

He received this award on 14 December during the 69th Annual Conference of ISAS in Kota, Rajasthan, India. ISAS is the first society of agricultural statisticians and was formed in 1947.

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New publications

Mapping Direct Seeded Rice in Raichur District of Karnataka, India

Authors: Gumma MK, Uppala D, Mohammed IA, Whitbread AM and Mohammed IR

Published: 2015. Photogrammetric engineering and remote sensing, 81 (11). pp. 873-880.

Abstract: Across South Asia, the cost of rice cultivation has increased due to labor shortage. Direct seeding of rice is widely promoted in order to reduce labor demand during crop establishment stage, and to benefit poor farmers. To facilitate planning and to track farming practice changes, this study presents techniques to spatially distinguish between direct seeded and transplanted rice fields using multiple-sensor remote sensing imagery. The district of Raichur, a major region in northeast Karnataka, where irrigated rice is grown and direct seeded rice has been widely promoted since 2000, was selected as a case study.


Development of a new CMS system in pigeonpea utilizing crosses with Cajanus lanceolatus (WV Fitgz) van der Maesen.

Authors: Srikanth S, Saxena RK, Rao MV, Varshney RK and Mallikarjuna N

Published: 2015. Euphytica, 204 (02). pp. 289-302

Abstract: Cytoplasmic male sterility is an important biological tool which is now available to pigeonpea breeders to exploit heterosis/hybrid vigor. A variety of CMS systems have been developed when wild relatives of pigeonpea from different gene pools were crossed as the female parent with cultivated types as the male parent. This paper reports a second source of CMS developed by using the cultivated pigeonpea as the female parent and one of its wild relative Cajanus lanceolatus (WV Fitgz) van der Maesen as the pollen donor.


Adoption of Integrated Food-Energy Systems: Improved cookstoves and pigeonpea in southern Malawi

Authors: Orr A, Kambombo B, Roth C, Harris D, and Doyle V

Published: 2015. Experimental Agriculture, 51 (02). pp. 191-209.

Abstract: We analyse the adoption of an Integrated Food-Energy System (IFES) in southern Malawi. The IFES combined the improved cookstove (chitetezo mbaula in Chichewa), designed to reduce demand for fuelwood, with the pigeonpea variety Mthawajuni, which increased both food supply and supply of fuelwood from pigeonpea stems. Adoption of the improved cookstove was found to be higher among households that were better off and where women had greater control over decision-making. However, adoption of the IFES was not associated with reduced demand for fuelwood from forests and hills or reduced frequency of collection. IFES adopters might have high fuelwood consumption because they were better off, but fuelwood consumption in better-off households did not differ significantly between IFES adopters and non-adopters. Pigeonpea increased food supply for adopter households, including children aged less than five years. Consequently, the IFES has had mixed results, improving food supply but not reducing demand for fuelwood. Households ranked early maturity, fuelwood and yield as the three most important reasons for preferring Mthawajuni over other varieties of pigeonpea. The plant breeding programme for pigeonpea in Malawi should evaluate improved varieties not only for earliness and grain yield but also for the production of fuelwood. Improved varieties with desirable market traits have had limited success in the absence of reliable markets and price incentives.


Quantitative trait loci associated with constitutive traits control water use in pearl millet [Pennisetum glaucum
(L.) R. Br.].

Authors: Aparna K, Nepolean T, Srivastsava RK, Kholová J, Rajaram V, Kumar S, Rekha B, Senthilvel S, Hash CT
and Vadez V

Published: Plant Biology, 17 (05). pp. 1073-1084. (In Press)

Abstract: There is substantial genetic variation for drought adaption in pearl millet in terms of traits controlling plant water use. It is important to understand genomic regions responsible for these traits. Here, F7 recombinant inbred lines were used to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) and allelic interactions for traits affecting plant water use, and their relevance is discussed for crop productivity in water-limited environments.


Global Food Security Support Analysis Data (GFSAD) at Nominal 1 km (GCAD) Derived from Remote Sensing in Support of Food Security in the Twenty-First Century: Current Achievements and Future Possibilities pp. 131-160 in Land Resources Monitoring, Modeling, and Mapping with Remote Sensing (Thenkabail PS, ed)

Authors: Teluguntla P, Thenkabail PS, Xiong J, Gumma MK, Giri C, Milesi C, Ozdogan M, Congalton RG and Tilton J

Inland Valley Wetland Cultivation and Preservation for Africa’s Green and Blue Revolution Using Multi-Sensor Remote Sensing pp. 227-256 in Land Resources Monitoring, Modeling, and Mapping with Remote Sensing (Thenkabail PS, ed)

Authors: Gumma MK, Thenkabail PS, Mohammed IA, Teluguntla P and Dheeravath V

Published: 2015. CRC Press

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