SATrends Issue 87
February 2008
1. One better than the other

JG 11 (ICCV 93954) is a desi chickpea variety developed by ICRISAT in partnership with Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya (JNKVV), Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, India. It was released by the Central Variety Release Committee of India for southern India in 1999.

A farmer who cultivates JG 11 A farmer who cultivates JG 11 interacts with ICRISAT and ANGRAU scientists.

JG 11 has spread rapidly in southern India during the past 5 years. It is gradually replacing the variety ĎAnnigerií that has been holding sway here for over four decades. Farmers prefer JG 11 because of its early maturity (95-100 days), high yield (up to 2.5 t ha-1 in rainfed and up to 3.5 t ha-1 under irrigated conditions), attractive large seed (22 g 100 seed-1) and high resistance to fusarium wilt (<10% mortality).

ICRISAT in partnership with Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRAU), Hyderabad and University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS)-Dharwad is promoting improved chickpea cultivars through farmer-participatory varietal trials in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, respectively. ICRISAT and JNKVV produced over 300 t breeder seed of JG 11 during the past five years and made it available to public and private seed sectors, NGOs and farmers for further seed multiplication and enhancing its adoption. Many farmers became seed growers and played an important role in spread of the variety. ICRISAT also distributed free seed samples (1 to 2 kg each) to thousands of farmers.

Farmers examining seed of JG 11 Farmers examining seed of JG 11 unloaded by a harvest combiner (see inset)

A team of scientists including ICRISATís chickpea breeder, Project Coordinator of All India Coordinated Research Project on Chickpea and scientists from ANGRAU visited chickpea fields in Kurnool and Prakasam districts of Andhra Pradesh. These two districts account for over 50% of the chickpea area in the state. According to the Department of Agriculture, the chickpea area in AP during the 2007/08 season reached a record high of 650,000 ha. There has been over four-fold increase in chickpea area in AP during the past 10 years. Kurnool alone has about 237,000 ha of chickpea this year and may be the largest chickpea growing district in India.



JG 11 now covers over 60% of the chickpea area in Kurnool and Prakasam districts. The variety has similar adoption in other districts, and is also becoming popular in Karnataka. It appears that JG 11 may completely replace Annigeri in just a few years.

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2. Farmers push the peanut boom

Donors and governments have invested over US$ 125 million in variety development, seed production and distribution programs in West Africa for 30 years. More than 39 groundnut varieties were developed and released by ICRISAT and partners. However, the returns to these investments are low due to limited uptake of modern varieties.

Why the limited uptake? 1) projects were state-run and expensive; 2) inconsistent supply of breeder/foundation seed; 3) very few outlets or input shops; (4) farmers couldnít afford seed and fertilizers; 5) input and product markets were poorly integrated; and 6) the legal, policy and institutional environment was not conducive to private sector entry in the seed market. Result? Transaction costs were very high making seed cost high and unaffordable to small-scale farmers scattered in rural areas. Thus, seed multiplication and distribution stopped when projects ended.

The Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) funded a 4-year project to disseminate improved varieties and develop sustainable seed production and supply systems to alleviate the constraints. ICRISAT and national Agricultural Research Systems of Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal implemented the project.

Mr Demba Traore Mr Demba Traore, a successful small-scale seed producer in Kolokani, Mali.

The first step was to get the right variety. After 2 years of farmer participatory variety selection trials, a range of varieties were tested by the oil industries and food technology laboratories. The most important traits include high yield, good taste, early maturity, drought resistance, high fodder and marketability.

The next step was to enhance access to seeds, as well as to fertilizers, equipment and credit. Because, a large share of the distribution costs was borne by transport coupled with handling and storage costs for legumes, options that favor production at the local level was emphasized. Thirty farmersí associations and small-scale seed producers were identified, trained and tasked with seed production and distribution.

To market the new varieties, small packs of seed were sold in rural communities of Mali, Niger and Nigeria. This scheme successfully disseminated the modern varieties to many farmers.

Of 39 varieties made available to farmers, 17 were disseminated and uptake has increased significantly. About 74% of the farmers in the pilot areas are growing modern varieties. They realized yield gains of 24%, 43% and 31% over the local varieties in Mali, Niger and Nigeria, respectively. The net income derived by adopters was 66% higher than non-adopters in Mali, 73% in Niger and 111% in Nigeria.

Important lessons: 1) new varieties need to be supplied regularly to sustain the seed market; 2) major determinants of adoption include the exposure to the varieties through farmersí participatory variety trials, the build up of social capital through the empowerment of farmersí associations and small-scale farmers; 3) the intensification of modern varieties is dependent essentially on seed availability and social capital; and 4) need policies and institutional innovations to enhance opportunities of farmers to select varieties with preferred traits, followed by the development of village seed supply and delivery schemes.

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