Regional opportunities for cool season food legumes for sustainable and enhanced food production, and crop diversification in the Indo-Gangetic Plain uri icon

abstract

  • Cool season food legumes (CSFL), mainly chickpea, lentil, khesari(lathyrus), faba bean, and pea, are important constituents of the diet ofthe people of the Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP). In the traditionalagricultural production systems of this ecoregion, these legumes wereimportant crops. However, the area and production of CSFL in the IGPhas decreased over the past two decades. Regional production isinadequate to meet regional demand, which increasingly has to besupplemented through imports. Large increase in demand of CSFL isprojected in these countries over the coming decade.Major reasons for the decrease in area and production of CSFL arcpreference of farmers to grow input-responsive, and more profitable riceand wheat crops and their reluctance to grow CSFL because of theuncertain yield that they can expect to harvest. Uncertainty in yield isassociated with aberrant climatic conditions, and related pest anddisease incidence.Technology and/or components of technology, effective in alleviating themajor abiotic and biotic constraints to CSFL production, are readilyavailable from the published literature. However, these have by and largenot reached farmers. With widespread adoption of improved technologies,higher yields could more reliably be harvested. This would furthermotivate farmers to expand area under these crops because CSFLproduction would be perceived as less risk-prone and quite profitable.Additional benefits would accrue from greater sustainability of the production systems into which these crops are introduced. Institutionalsupport (incentives and farmer-friendly policy) that would ensuredependable income to farmers will be necessary for rapid adoption of newtechnologies. It is suggested that short-term, focused research anddevelopment projects could quickly result in greater availability of thesepulses and reverse the declining trends in area under these crops

publication date

  • 2000