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   Crops Chickpea


Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.)

Chickpea, a self-pollinating diploid (2n=2x=16) with a genome size of 740 Mbp, is the world’s third most important food legume. It is currently grown on about 11.5 million ha, with 96% of the area in developing countries. Chickpea production has increased during the past 30 years from 6.5 million tons (1978-1980 average) to 9.6 million tons (2007-09) because of increase in grain yields from 630 to 850 kg/ha during this period.

South and Southeast Asia

This region contributes about 81% to the global chickpea production, with India as the principal chickpea producing country (84% share in the region). The chickpea area marginally increased from 9.1 million ha to 9.5 million ha during the period 1978-80 to 2007-09
(Figure 1). However, the production increased by 27% (from 5.6 to 7.7 million tons) during this period due to the increase in grain yields from 610 to 800 kg/ha. Severe drought in several parts of India during 2000-03 led to sudden decline in chickpea area during that period.

Figure 1. Three-year moving average for chickpea area, production and grain yield; and number of varieties released based on ICRISAT bred material in South and South-East Asia.





Most significant has been the major shift in chickpea area from northern India (cooler, long-season environments) to southern India (warmer, short-season environments) during the past four decades (Figure 2). The short-duration cultivars developed through ICRISAT-NARS partnerships have played a key role in expanding area and productivity of chickpea in central and southern India.


Figure 2. Regional shift in chickpea area from northern India to central and southern India (3-year moving average).


An example is the phenomenal increase in area and productivity of chickpea in Andhra pradesh state of southern India, largly because of the adoption of fusarium wilt resistant, short-duration varieties. During the past 10 years (1999/00 to 2008/09), chickpea production has increased 9.3 fold (95,000 to 884,000 tons) due to the 3.8 fold increase in area (from 163,000 ha to 628,000 ha) and 2.4 fold increase in productivity (850 to 1410 kg/ha).

ICRISAT-bred chickpea cultivars covered over 80% of the chickpea area in Myanmar during 2008-09, with the adoption of improved cultivars leading to an increase in area and productivity. During the past decade (1999/00 to 2008/09), chickpea production in Myanmar has increased 4.7 fold (from 84,000 to 398,000 tons) due to an increase in area (from 129,000 to 282,000 ha) and yield (from 650 to 1415 kg/ha). Myanmar has emerged as an important exporter of chickpea in the region.

Eastern Africa


New cultivars that combine early maturity and resistance to fusarium wilt have been rapidly adopted in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Sudan and Kenya. This led to an increase in area from 0.21 to 0.41 million ha, production from 0.15 to 0.37 million tons and productivity from 0.71 to 0.90 tons/ha during the period 1978-80 to 2007-09 (Figure 3).


Figure 3. Three-year moving average for chickpea area, production and grain yield; and number of varieties released (3-year total) based on ICRISAT-bred material in eastern Africa.


Chickpea export from eastern Africa has substantially increased after 2001 and ranged between 11,000 to 122,000 tons per year. The introduction of new large-seeded kabuli cultivars in eastern Africa opened new opportunities for farmers to earn extra income through export of these high-valued chickpeas.

Cultivars released

Seventy-seven cultivars based on ICRISAT-bred germplasm have been released in different countries - India (34), Ethiopia (10), Bangladesh (6), Myanmar (6), Kenya (5), Tanzania (4), Sudan (4),  Nepal (4), Australia (2) Pakistan (1) and USA (1).

Chickpea core and mini-core collections and a reference set representing diversity of the global collection have been developed and are available for crop improvement programs globally.

by ICRISAT. All rights reserved.