Two new machine harvestable chickpea varieties ICCV 08102 (RVG 204) and ICCV 08108 (Phule Vikram) were released recently in the Indian states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra respectively. It may be recalled that the first machine-harvestable chickpea variety – ICCV 05106 (NBeG 47) – was released in Andhra Pradesh in 2016. The release of these three varieties was achieved through a partnership among the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the State Agricultural Universities and ICRISAT.
These varieties were developed following demands from farmers for machine-harvestable chickpea as manual harvesting was becoming an expensive field operation due to increasing labor cost. The existing varieties were unsuitable for machine harvesting due to inadequate plant height and also because of branches growing too close to the ground. The new varieties released have semi-erect growth habit and the first pod height is about 30 cm from the soil surface providing enough ground clearance for machine harvesting.
In addition, the two newly-released varieties are high-yielding, disease-resistant, early-maturing and have market-preferred traits. Variety RVG 204 recorded 16 to 32% higher yield than the popular cultivars JG 11 and JAKI 9218 in Madhya Pradesh. In Maharashtra, the variety Phule Vikram recorded 10 to 22% higher yield than the popular varieties Vijay, Vishal, Digvijay, JG 16, JAKI 9218 and BDNG 797 under irrigated and timely-sown conditions and 17 to 31% higher yield than Vijay, Vishal and Digvijay under late-sown conditions. Both these varieties are highly resistant to Fusarium wilt, mature early and have market-preferred grain quality.
With Madhya Pradesh being the largest (3.2 million ha) and Maharashtra the second largest (1.8 million ha) chickpea-growing state in India and both the states put together accounting for 50% of the chickpea area in India, the new varieties will benefit millions of chickpea farmers in India. In fact, the first machine-harvestable chickpea variety that was released in Andhra Pradesh is in high demand and spreading rapidly. Within one year of release, this variety covered about 500 ha during the 2016-17 crop season.
Machine harvesting of chickpea can reduce cost of production, prevent risk of harvest losses, improve resource use efficiency and reduce drudgery for women who carry out the manual harvesting. Machine-harvestable chickpea varieties have the potential to enhance chickpea area and production in India, and can help reach the country’s goal of self-sufficiency in pulse production and doubling farmers’ income.
The variety RVG 204 was released by RAK College of Agriculture, Sehore, of Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia Krishi Vishwavidyalaya (RVSKVV), Gwalior, and the variety Phule Vikram by Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth (MPKV), Rahuri. The chickpea research team comprised of Drs M Yasin, HS Yadava, Priyanka Joshi, DR Saxena, SC Gupta, Sandeep Sharma, and RP Singh from RVSKVV and Drs PN Harer, VD Shende, MR Bedis, LB Mhase VB Shinde, DV Deshmukh, BV Kagane, VM Kulkarni, MB Pawar, and SN Bhalerao from MPKV.