Farmers in the Indian states of Bihar and Odisha have largely benefitted from access to improved cultivars/hybrids and their production technologies, facilitated by the Tropical Legumes II (TL II) project that is being implemented under the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes.

Dr Jeff Ehlers, Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Dr Emmanuel Monyo, Coordinator, TL II Project, visited the project sites in Bihar with ICRISAT’s Dr Pooran Gaur and in Odisha with Dr P Janila on 23-26 February.

The team visiting a breeder seed production plot of ICGV 91114 (Devi) in Puri district of Odisha. Photo: ICRISAT

The team visiting a breeder seed production plot of ICGV 91114 (Devi) in Puri district of Odisha.

Bihar and Odisha are the new target states included in phase 2 of TL II. The major activities under the phase include identification of suitable cultivars (also hybrids in case of pigeonpea) and production technologies for chickpea, groundnut and pigeonpea through farmer-participatory varietal selection (FPVS) trials; enhancing availability of quality seed by strengthening formal and informal seed systems; and knowledge empowerment of farmers through various awareness activities and training programs.

In Bihar, the team visited the FPVS trials and seed production programs on farmers’ fields of chickpea and pigeonpea in Kotwali, Rajaun, Sujal Kora, and Tilaunda villages. Dr Ravi Gopal Singh (Director for Research), Dr Rafat Sultana (Principal Investigator for Pigeonpea) and Dr Ramesh Gupta (Principal Investigator for Chickpea) from the Bihar Agricultural University (BAU), Sabour, accompanied the team on field visits.

Improved varieties/hybrids introduced under the project showed significant superiority over the local varieties grown by farmers. The heat tolerant chickpea variety JG 14 was preferred by the farmers because of its high productivity and good-quality seed. Similarly in pigeonpea, hybrid ICPH 2740 and cultivar ICP 7035 were preferred by farmers.
In Odisha, the team visited Breeder Seed (BS) production plots of ICGV 91114 (Devi) groundnut variety organized by the Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) in three villages (Mathasahi, Dakshianagaon, and Singbarampur) of Puri District.

ICGV 91114 is a farmer-preferred variety identified under a previous International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) project. Currently under TL II this variety is being popularized among farmers in the state through demonstrations and support to formal and informal seed systems.

An interaction was organized in Singhbarampur village where farmers shared constraints on crop production with the team, highlighting that timely availability of quality seed of groundnut and other pulses was very crucial to them. Dr J Ehlers and team also met with Prof Manoranjan Kar, Vice Chancellor and Dr P K Das, Dean of Research, OUAT. Project partners from the university, Drs Damodar Parida, Senapathi, Kedareswar Pradhan, Dayanidhi Mishra and Debdutt Behura were also present at the meeting.

Progress made in groundnut, chickpea and pigeonpea under the TL II project was discussed. Dr Parida explained how the germplasm and segregating populations received from ICRISAT helped them strengthen the groundnut breeding pipeline at OUAT in the past two years. He also informed that ICGV 02266 is a preferred variety of groundnut with superior performance in several trails and thus would like to propose it for release in the state.

Dr J Ehlers appreciated the enthusiasm of scientists and officials from the project partners in implementing the project activities and in facilitating farmers’ access to improved cultivars/hybrids and production technologies.

Adapted from ICRISAT Happenings