Imagine 2.25 tonnes of chickpea variety harvested in just 75 minutes! The process (including cutting and threshing) would normally take three long days. This is made possible due to the breeding of a taller chickpea variety that is able to be harvested by standard machinery.
The chickpea variety, NBeG 47, is the first machine harvestable variety released in Andhra Pradesh suitable for the state’s variable climate.
This development was demonstrated recently in a farmer’s fields in Andhra Pradesh’s Anantapur district showing how farmers can save time and money.
The chickpea variety planted in farmer B Rameswar Reddy’s field was developed by Dr Veera Jayalakshmi, Principal Scientist (Chickpea Breeding) at Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University in Nandyal, with support from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid-Tropics (ICRISAT). The breeding material for developing this variety and technical support was provided by ICRISAT.
“Currently chickpea farming in Andhra Pradesh is partially mechanised – the crop is cut manually and then fed into a threshing machine. The total mechanisation of harvesting is cost effective and quicker, reducing the risk of the ripened crop’s exposure to untimely rain or other extreme weather conditions,” says Dr Pooran M. Gaur, Principal Scientist, Chickpea Breeding at ICRISAT.
Dr Jayalakshmi says the farmer will keep a portion of seeds for his next crop and make available this new variety to other interested farmers in the region.
She adds that machine harvesting is better for the health of the labourers, especially women, as handling the crop causes painful dermatitis due to its high acid content.
This innovative variety was developed to address the issue of labour shortage on farms and reduce drudgery, especially for women labourers. The yield of this new variety, 2.25 tonnes per ha, is on par and in some conditions better than the existing ruling variety JG 11 (1.75 to 2.5 tonnes per ha), provided the prescribed plant spacing is followed. Other traits such as disease and drought tolerance are also on par with the JG 11 variety.
Dr Y Padmalatha, Associate Director of Research, Regional Agricultural Research Station, Nandyal, says that while scientists come up with innovations for better farming practices, policymakers need to provide much needed support to price pulses like chickpea so farmers get consistent market value for their crops.
The demonstration of the variety was recently held at Vennapusapalli village of Andhra Pradesh, where local community leaders and farmers from other villages learned about the new variety.
More research efforts are underway to develop machine harvestable chickpea varieties suited for other parts of India like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.
Dr Jayalakshmi says the variety was derived from a cross between an ICRISAT line ICCV 2 and a local line PDG 84-16 and NBeG 47 and grows to a height of 60 cm under prevalent conditions in southern India. Like paddy or wheat, it is amenable to mechanical harvesting. The new variety was developed through a project titled Developing chickpea varieties suitable for machine harvesting and tolerant to herbicides funded by the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, National Food Security Mission, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India.