Farmers cultivating ICRISAT’s pigeonpea hybrids reported significant increases in yields, with the medium duration hybrids grown by farmers in five states in India giving 30-35% higher yields compared to local varieties. This was despite facing challenges such as resource scarcity, climate change and degradation of soil fertility in the five states.

These were shared during the Review Meeting on Hybrid Pigeonpea Seed Production, which brought together 50 smallholder farmers and seed producers at the ICRISAT headquarters on 14 May, to formulate a road map on the expansion of pigeonpea hybrid production in India.

Participants of the meeting. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

During the meeting, Dr Rajeev Varshney, ICRISAT Research Program Director – Grain Legumes, recognized the role of the private sector in promoting hybrids to smallholder farming communities. He added that the purity kit developed by the Centre of Excellence in Genomics, and made available by ICRISAT in public domain will be very useful to maintain genetic purity of pigeonpea hybrids.

Mr Aziz, a former employee of ICRISAT, has been growing pigeonpea hybrids for the last two years in Patancheru, Andhra Pradesh. He related that while his neighbor’s pigeonpea crop, which was of the local variety, was completely infested by wilt, his field planted to pigeonpea hybrid did not show any incidence of wilt.

Mr Kadam, a farmer from Amravati district of Maharashtra, said that he was extremely happy with the returns he got from hybrid seed production and that the profit he gained had encouraged more farmers from his village to switch to pigeonpea hybrids.

Dr Dhanalakshmi, Program Coordinator, Krishi Vigyan Kendra (agricultural extension center), Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, emphasized that to enhance productivity, which is very low in this state, hybrids are the best choice.

Mr Ravinder Raj, District Manager, Andhra Pradesh State Seed Corporation, congratulated ICRISAT scientists for developing the pigeonpea hybrid technology and agreed to extend all possible support in promoting the hybrids in Andhra Pradesh.

Dr Bijendra Pal, Deputy Director, Bio-Seed Research India, announced the launch of ICPH 2671 hybrid seeds for commercial marketing. This private company will market hybrid seeds sufficient for 20,000 ha (about 49,000 acres).

Dr Hari Baptiwale, Deputy Director, Agricultural Technology Management Agency, was impressed with the performance of ICPH 2740 in the farmers’ fields and said that the company would now introduce the hybrid in about 1,000 ha (2,400 acres) in different blocks of Amravati, Maharashtra.

Dr CV Sameer Kumar, ICRISAT Pigeonpea Breeder, explained about the performance of ICPH 2740, anticipating an expansion in cropped area by 300,000 ha in 2016. He, along with Ch Ravinder Reddy, C Sudhakar, MV Nagesh Kumar and Mr R V Kumar, presented and discussed the pigeonpea hybrid (ICPH 2740 and ICPH 2671) seed production technology, to promote large-scale production among farmers in the five states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

The activity was undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes.

Adapted from ICRISAT Happenings