Experience of the Tropical Legumes II (TL II) project showed that profitable net returns, rather than physical yield of cultivars, is a stronger motivating factor for farmers to adopt cultivars.
Key lessons learnt during the two phases (2007-2011 & 2011-2014) of project implementation are:

  • The price fetched by the farmer as well as the physical yield of the cultivar should be considered when deciding the cultivars to be released to farmers.
  • Farmer-Participatory Varietal Selection (FPVS) trials have demonstrated their potential in hastening the formal release and encouraging farmers to adopt them
  • Attractive seed subsidies given by respective state governments have motivated the farmers significantly to enhance adoption
  • Due to lack of interest by major private companies in legumes seed multiplication, community seed systems approach should be followed to hasten the adoption of farmer-selected cultivars

 Challenges and opportunities

Chickpea: Some of the challenges were sustaining the production and productivity beyond project period; indiscriminate use of agricultural inputs leading to unsustainable cultivation of chickpea, especially in Andhra Pradesh; and falling ‘output prices’ due to duty free imports from Australia and Canada.

New opportunities include development of ‘tall cultivars’ suitable for mechanical cultivation. In the rice-fallows of India (Andhra Pradesh and Bihar) and Barind in Bangladesh, heat and herbicide tolerant cultivars are in high demand.

Groundnut: Enhancing the adoption of project-introduced cultivars is the biggest challenge. Seed multiplication and distribution is critical due to frequent crop failures with recurrent droughts and poor seed multiplication ratio.

The existing formal seed systems are weak and policies are unfavorable. There is also stiff competition from other crops like soybean, cotton, maize, etc.

Opportunities exist for high-yielding, drought-tolerant cultivars and there is a growing demand for groundnuts that are suited for confectionery.

Pigeonpea: Frequent droughts limited the spread of cultivars and resulted in lower productivity levels. The newly introduced hybrid technology faced problems in isolation distances and seed setting.

New opportunities are open for high-yielding and medium-duration cultivars that are tolerant to terminal moisture stress.

Learnings from the TL II project in South Asia were shared at the 8th Annual Conference of Asian Society for Agricultural Economists. The conference was held from 15-17 October at Dhaka, Bangladesh. Learnings on three targeted legumes – Chickpea, Pigeonpea and Groundnut were presented at the session ‘Targeting of Grain Legumes for Income and Nutritional Security in South Asia’.

The TL II project is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Adapted from ICRISAT Happenings