Pooran Gaur, the patron who helped chickpea shed its ‘orphan’ tag

Dr Pooran Gaur, former Director of the Asia Research Program at ICRISAT, recently retired after two decades of research and leadership that saw ICRISAT-developed chickpea improve the crop’s production in Asia and Africa.

Dr Gaur joined ICRISAT as a chickpea scientist from Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwavidyalaya, Jabalpur, India, where he was an Associate Professor until August 2001. Dr Gaur’s entry into chickpea research was at a time when the crop was commonly referred to as an orphan crop because it was largely ignored by the research community.

Over the next two decades, Dr Gaur went to work on extra-large seeded Kabuli chickpea that triggered its production in India when the country was importing to meet domestic demand. His work not only helped India shore up production but also helped turn it into an exporter of Kabuli chickpea.

To help farming evolve and become less labor-intensive, Dr Gaur led ICRISAT’s research in development of India’s first machine-harvestable chickpea. Three machine-harvestable varieties have been released in recent years. These varieties have helped reduce the cost and drudgery in chickpea farming, making it attractive for farmers.

Dr Gaur and his team also helped increase Myanmar’s chickpea production multifold through research on early-maturing varieties. In India, his team was instrumental in developing heat-tolerant varieties.

For his work, Dr Gaur was awarded the Doreen Margaret Mashler Award, ICRISAT’s highest scientific honor, in 2019.

“I feel very proud of ICRISAT’s achievements and of the impacts that we have made with partners while working on chickpea,” Dr Gaur said as he signed off.

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