16434634558_a72202069c_o_ICARDA_FlcickTogether with its South Asian partners, ICARDA is pursuing the diversification of cereal-based production systems, adding legumes to the mix. In most of the project site of Morocco’s OCPF (Office Chérifien des Phosphates Foundation) and NFSM-P (National Food Security Mission – Pulses) in the eastern Indian states of West Bengal and Tripura, rice-fallow areas are now being cultivated with lentil and grasspea. This diversification strategy boosts national nutrition and food security, improves incomes and livelihoods in rural communities, and strengthens the sustainability of cropping systems.

“If 10-15 thousand ha of rice-fallow area can be covered by lentil, around 25% of the state’s requirement can be fulfilled,” said Dr. G.S.G Ayyangar, Tripura’s Principal Secretary (Agriculture), in the presence of officials from the State Department of Agriculture (Tripura), scientists from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and ICARDA, NGO representatives and project collaborators at a meeting held at Tripura’s Ministry of Agriculture on 15 February, 2016.

Dr. Ashutosh Sarker, Food Legume Breeder and Coordinator of ICARDA’s South Asia and China Regional Program, talked about lentils that are well adapted to Tripura’s agro-climatic conditions. “Grasspea too can be taken up in rice-fallow areas since it is a multi-purpose crop. It can be used as a dal and leafy vegetable, and it also improves soil and animal health,” he added. Tripura’s State Department of Agriculture appreciated ICARDA’s initiative to introduce lentil in Tripura in 2012-13, which was later taken up as the State’s Mission.

Farmers’ meetings and field days were organized at many project sites, where rice-fallow areas have been covered with lentil and grasspea. Around 400 farmers, including more than 100 women farmers, participated and scientists interacted with them on the performance of different lentil and grasspea varieties provided by ICARDA. Farmers were happy and satisfied with the performance of these crops. They expressed their interest in expanding lentil and grasspea cultivation in rice fallows. A team of scientists including Drs. Ashutosh Sarker, S A Patil, Aqeel Hasan Rizvi and Pooja Sah also visited ICARDA’s experimental trials at Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya (BCKV), Kalyani (West Bengal) and ICAR Research Complex for North Eastern Hill Region, Tripura Centre.