India plans to cultivate hybrid pigeonpea over 3 mn hectares

Hyderabad, June 4 (IANS) The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and various states in India plan to cover three million hectares under hybrid pigeonpea cultivation by 2018.

Working to popularise hybrid pigeonpea, the international research institute headquartered at Patancheru near here, has prepared a work plan with officials of various states.

ICRISAT held a high-level planning meeting here on Friday, chaired by Shobhana K. Pattanayak, Secretary, Agriculture, Government of India.

He called upon all value chain actors including farmers, seed companies, private sector and research organisations to find a joint solution to resolve all hurdles and issues that are preventing Indian farmers from meeting their demand for hybrid pigeonpea seeds and other pulses.

Over 40 participants including farmer representatives, government officials from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Odisha, state agricultural universities and eight seed companies involved in the production of hybrid seeds came together and started a new initiative to explore ways of making India self-sufficient in the production of pulses, in particular hybrid pigeonpea, said a statement by ICRISAT.

At a time when India is keen to be pulse self-sufficient and is committed to overcome the under supply and export costs, popularisation and increasing the uptake of hybrid pigeonpea across India was recognised as one of the key solutions during the deliberations, it said.

“In order to meet its ever-growing demand for pulses, India needs to achieve self-sufficiency in pulses. We need to make pulses production more profitable by reducing production costs through mechanization, using hybrids and minimizing the post-harvest losses,” said David Bergvinson, ICRISAT Director General during his address via video conference from the United States.

Bergvinson said that hybrid pigeonpea is the world’s only hybrid amongst the legumes, which was developed by ICRISAT along with its partners in research over the last 30 years.

But despite being hailed as a great scientific breakthrough and huge success, uptake is nowhere near what it could be.

Looking at the success of some farmers who have cultivated hybrid pigeonpea and market demand,AICRISAT has seen a huge surge in enquiries for hybrid pigeonpea and scientists have received over 700 phone calls from Indian farmers in the last three weeks asking for seeds.

–IANS

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