Farmers and Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) from Maharashtra, India, expressed their interest to grow commercial pigeonpea hybrids and take up seed production during the 2016 cropping season. This was the outcome of a recent training program that demonstrated the superior performance of hybrid pigeonpea (ICPH 2740) that is resistant to major diseases like Fusarium wilt and Sterility mosaic.
ICPH 2740 is being cultivated in more than 20,000 ha in Maharashtra. Farmers have reported 20-25% higher yield than local varieties. This was achieved through a project that is being implemented since 2014 by the Department of Agriculture (DoA), Maharashtra, through Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY). ICRISAT is supporting this initiative by providing quality hybrid seed, monitoring of on-farm trials and building the capacities of officers and farmers through training programs.
Mr Haribhau Baptiwale, Deputy Director, Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA), informed that ICPH 2740 is performing very well under irrigated conditions in Maharashtra yielding around 2 to 4 tons/ha and is replacing local varieties that are sensitive to wilt and sterility mosaic diseases.
Emphasizing that pigeonpea hybrids have a huge potential of yielding more than 3-4 tons/ha, Mr SM Pundkar, General Manager (Production), MAHABEEJ, said, there is a need for quality seed to be made easily available to farmers and assured their company’s support in this regard.
Dr Rajeev Varshney, Director, Research Program-Grain Legumes, ICRISAT, spoke about the SSR marker based purity testing kit that is available in public domain for maintaining genetic purity of hybrid seeds developed by ICRISAT.
ICRISAT staff Dr CV Sameer Kumar, Senior Scientist, Pigeonpea Breeding; Dr Anupama J Hingane, Special Project Scientist, Pigeonpea Breeding and Project Coordinator; Mr Vijaykumar, Senior Manager; Mr Rameshwar Telangre, Scientific Officer, Pathology-Grain-legumes; and Dr GV Ranga Rao, Special Project Scientist-IPM; oriented the participants and addressed their queries.
During their visit to the ICRISAT research fields, participants were briefed on hybrid pigeonpea technology and various experimental hybrids developed in short and medium maturity group. A field trip to Tandur was organized to demonstrate on-farm performance of ICPH 2740 in farmer Mr Somi Reddy’s field. Participants also got an opportunity to visit the Agriculture Research Station in Tandur where Dr Sudhakar Chourat, Senior Scientist, Agronomy, briefed them about transplanting technology and other agronomic implementations like drip irrigation, square planting, etc, to be considered in hybrid pigeonpea technology.
The two-day training program brought together 45 officers from the Department of Agriculture, Maharashtra and State Seed Corporation (MAHABEEJ) along with 30 farmers from FPOs, scientists from Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) and private seed companies. The DoA officers will play a crucial role in promoting new technologies to farmers and MAHABEEJ will lead in commercialization of hybrid seed production.
The training was organized at ICRISAT-India on 27 and 28 November.