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'India can treble pigeonpea production with disease resistant crops'

Press Trust of India  |  Hyderabad 

India, the world's largest of pigeonpea or 'arhar dal', could increase the production of the grain by three times, say scientists who are working on creating varieties resistant to diseases and climate change.

The pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan) is a major source of protein for the population of the Indian subcontinent.

Pre-breeding scientists at the for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) are exploring sourced from the wild species of Cajanus.

A project funded by the (GCDT), will evaluate promising pre-breeding lines in and Myanmar, bringing them one step closer to cultivation.

"It is critical to bring in beneficial traits that are not present in domesticated pigeonpea, and the pre-breeding work at holds great promise," said Benjamin Kilian, Scientist from the GCDT.

"Our goal of increasing the livelihood and nutrition security of smallholder farmers moves forward, and pre-breeding has hastened the process of reaching better crop varieties to farmers," said Peter Carberry, Director General,

It has taken several years of research for scientists to evaluate wild pigeonpea species and identify those with promise of resistance/tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses, including sterility mosaic disease, Fusarium wilt, pod borer and salinity.

"Pigeonpea has a narrow genetic base. The varieties currently grown by farmers have little resilience to recurrent or new diseases and insect-pests," said Shivali Sharma, at

"We find some wild species have adapted to several of these stresses. Leveraging these traits for cultivation can benefit livelihoods and nutrition," said Sharma.

"This project will develop new material as well as take the available material to the farmers, so that they can produce more and generate better incomes with the new climate-resilient pigeonpea varieties," said Rajeev K Varshney, at ICRISAT.

Field-level activities in multiple agro-ecologies and socio-economic settings (different locations) will be carried out by ICRISAT in collaboration with the following national and international partners.

The two-year project holds promise to improve livelihoods and nutrition security of the most- at-need communities in south-and in

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, October 25 2018. 16:20 IST