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Women scientists create top 3 climate-smart chickpea varieties in India for 2022

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29 September 2022, New Delhi: Meet the three women scientists who worked shoulder-to-shoulder with ICRISAT in creating the most promising climate-smart chickpea varieties of 2022, which offer a superior alternative to existing varieties, especially in Central and South India.

A myriad of Indian culinary delights have chickpea as their main ingredient. While women and men are busy whipping up these protein-rich dishes, there are also those behind the scenes constantly modifying the grain to suit changing palates, seasons, and climate.

Year 2022 has seen leading women chickpea breeders create varieties that are able to tolerate climate variability in terms of heat tolerance, mature early (one of the varieties matures in just 94 days) and are machine harvestable for quicker harvesting to escape unseasonal rains.

These varieties are also resistant to many diseases including the dreaded Fusarium wilt. They can be grown in both rainfed and irrigated conditions, and importantly exhibit desirable market traits.

Creator of the first machine-harvestable chickpea in Andhra Pradesh improvises on it

Dr Veera Jayalakshmi’s association with ICRISAT goes back to 2005 when she began developing a drought tolerant chickpea variety in 2012 and the first machine-harvestable variety in 2015. Years of experimentation led to the release of the much superior desi chickpea (ICCV 14108) in 2022, which is resistant to Fusarium wilt. ​ Dr Jayalakshmi is a Principal Scientist at the Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS), Nandyal, Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University( ANGRAU), Andhra Pradesh.

Developer of a new chickpea variety that surpasses popular varieties in her region

Dr Anita Babbar has developed a chickpea variety suitable for cultivation in Madhya Pradesh. ​ The newly released desi variety (ICCV15118) is tolerant to heat stress (late planting conditions) and is superior to existing varieties in terms of yield and its resistance to a number of diseases.

The large-sized seeds have good parching quality proving to be a superior alternative to as many as five existing varieties. Dr Anita Babbar is a Principal Scientist at Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya (JNKVV), State Agricultural UniversityJabalpur, and has been associated with ICRISAT for more than 20 years.

“The friendly yet professional atmosphere at ICRISAT and its inclusive way of working has encouraged innovative thinking among women,” says Dr Anita Babbar.

An early-maturing chickpea variety that can thrive in four southern states

Dr Ritu Saxena has developed a chickpea variety that matures in just 94 days. This particular trait enables its cultivation in different cropping systems in the post-rainy (rabi) season in the four states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

The variety (ICCV 15101) has an average protein content of 22% and exhibits preferred market traits. Dr Ritu Saxena is a Principal Scientist at Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyalaya (IGKV), Raipur in Chattisgarh and is associated with ICRISAT since 2018.

Lead chickpea breeder at ICRISAT Dr Srinivasan Samineni applauded the achievements and noted the role of ICRISAT in the development of the new varieties.

“The above varieties have resulted from the product profiles developed by the chickpea crop team at ICRISAT and the respective state agricultural universities,” says Dr Srinivasan Samineni, Lead Chickpea Breeder at ICRISAT.

ICRISAT regularly supplies trait-specific breeding material to more than 25 chickpea breeding programs in India and to the national breeding programs of more than 10 countries in South Asia and Eastern and Southern Africa.

In India, researchers select from the supplied breeding material and promising lines are nominated to the All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) on chickpea for release. In the past 10 years, 23 varieties have been released in India through the collaboration between the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and ICRISAT.

Comparison of the three new varieties
CharacteristicsNBeG 776(ICCV 14108)JG 18(ICCV 15118) ​CG Akshay Chana(ICCV 15101)
Average yield (q)2820-2316
Protein content (%)20.920.122.09
Market traitsSuitable for machine harvestingGood parching quality; suitable for late planting conditionsSuitable for machine harvesting
100 seed weight (g)2530-3225.4
Days to Maturity90-105110-11594
Plant height484564
Disease resistanceFusarium wiltFusarium wilt, moderate resistance to Dry Root Rot and Stunt virusFusarium wilt, moderate resistance to Dry Root Rot and Stunt virus
Varieties it can replaceJG 11, JAKI 9218JAKI 9218, JG 14, JG 16Popular varieties in AP, KA, TS and TN states
Suitable regionsAndhra PradeshMadhya PradeshSouth Zone
Comparison of the three new varieties

Also Read: Heartfulness Institute to set up a Millet Experience Centre to promote the International Year of Millets

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