Lentil (Lens culinaris Medikus), one of the world’s oldest cultivated plants, originated in the Middle East and spread east through Western Asia to the Indian subcontinent. Lentil is currently grown in South America, Europe, Australia and Asia. It is a short-statured, annual, self-pollinated, high-value crop species.
Lentil is relatively tolerant to drought environment and is grown throughout the world. The crop has great significance in cereal-based cropping systems because of its nitrogen-fixing ability, its high protein seeds for human consumption and its straw for animal feed. Protein content ranges from 22 to 35%, and like other grain legumes its amino acid profile is complementary to that of cereals.
The major reason for its low productivity in developing countries is because the crop is grown on marginal lands in semi-arid environments without irrigation, weeding or pest control. The major producers of lentil are the countries in Southern and Western Asia, Northern Africa, Canada, Australia and USA.
The most important fungal diseases that affect lentils are Ascochyta blight and Fusarium wilt; however other diseases such as anthracnose, Stemphylium blight and Botrytis blight are also economically significant. Major pests include aphids, bud weevils, cutworms, leaf weevils, pod borer, stink bugs and thrips.