Record output in sight as heat-tolerant chickpea varieties score with farmers

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 27 2014, 09:33am hrs
Widespread sowing of short-duration and heat-tolerant varieties of chickpeas in central and southern parts of the country in the current rabi season will push pulses production to a record level in 2013-14.

Developed jointly by the Hyderabad-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and state agriculture universities, these chickpea varieties (around 90 days crop) has been cultivated extensively by the farmers in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.We are expecting a record harvest of chickpeas this year mainly because of large-scale usage by farmers in the southern peninsula and yield-wise the new varieties would give similar yields compared to long-duration or 140-day varieties grown in northern India, CL Laxmipathi Gowda, deputy director general (research), ICRISAT told FE.

However, Gowda said the government must provide procurement and storage mechanism to the farmers due to an expected bumper production, which could pull down prices. At the start of the current rabi season, the government had announced hike in the minimum support price (MSP) of chickpeas to Rs 3,000 per quintal from Rs 2,800 per quintal fixed in the previous year.

At the National Commodity and Derivative Exchange, futures prices of chickpeas for delivery in May rose marginally on Tuesday to Rs 3,072 per quintal. On similar lines, the commodity for delivery in April traded higher at Rs 3,032 per quintal.As per the second advance estimate released by agriculture ministry, chickpeas or gram production in the 2013-14 season is expected to reach a record 9.79 million tonne from 8.6 mt achieved in the previous year.

The record chickpea production, which contributes more than 50% to the pulses basket, would also result in the country's pulses output in 2013-14, increasing to a record 19.7 mt from 18.4 mt reported in the previous year.

The record chickpeas output is also expected to pull down pulse import in 2013-14 to around 2.7 mt from 3.8 mt reported in the previous year, a Mumbai-based trader said.Gowda said yield-wise the new chickpeas varieties have given more than 2.5 tonne per hectare while traditionally long-duration varieties have given 3 tonne per hectare output.