Farmers in Maharashtra, India, are switching to pigeonpea hybrids on a large scale.  Traditionally, farmers here grow pigeonpea as an intercrop with soybean or cotton. However, in the recent past farmers incurred heavy losses on their soybean crop due to infestation by Yellow vein mosaic and Shoot fly. On the other hand, pigeonpea gave them good returns.

Farmers in the region are happy with the performance of hybrid pigeonpea developed by ICRISAT due its vigor and resistance to diseases. It has yielded a maximum of 3.5 tons per ha in farmers’ field with an average yield of 2 tons per ha as compared to other varieties. The hybrid technology to farmers on more than 15,000 ha since 2014 cropping season with support from Department of Agriculture, Government of Maharashtra, through the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) scheme.

More than 800 ha of cropland has been planted with hybrid pigeonpea in the region with support from Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA), Wardha, during 2015. Other districts of Maharashtra like Solapur, Buldhana and Amravati have also demonstrated hybrid pigeonpea on over 600 ha through ATMA during the 2015 cropping season.

At a training-cum-field day more than 100 farmers including 30 women farmers participated in the event. It was organized at Talegaon, Wardha district, Maharashtra on 7 October in collaboration with ATMA, Wardha, and Department of Agriculture, Government of Maharashtra.

The Maharashtra State Seeds Corporation Ltd (MAHABEEJ) has taken up this hybrid for field trials in larger areas across different locations. The corporation also aims to commercialize large-scale seed production in the coming season.

ICRISAT has also shared super-early pigeonpea lines with MAHABEEJ. The super-early lines maturing in 90 days give an average yield of 1 ton per ha and can be grown in the off-season due to photo and thermo insensitivity. This widens the scope of growing pigeonpea in new niches like rice-wheat cropping system. Also with the price of pigeonpea dal rising to US$3 per kg farmers are interested to grow pigeonpea in postrainy season.

MAHABEEJ will also collaborate with ICRISAT for developing pigeonpea varieties and hybrids resistant to Fusarium wilt and Sterility mosaic and also in releasing new high yielding disease resistant hybrids.

The project ‘Promotion of hybrid pigeonpea under production program under RKVY’, supported by Department of Agriculture, Government of Maharashtra is undertaken as part of CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes.

Adapted from ICRISAT Happenings