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Breeding Chickpea for Improved Adaptation to the Semi-Arid Tropical Environments

Gaur, P.M., Srivastava, R.K., Gowda, C.L.L., Pande, S., Sharma, H.C., Sharma, K.K., Vadez, V., Kashiwagi, J., Krishnamurthy, L., Varshney, R.K.ORCID: 0000-0002-4562-9131 and Hoisington, D.A. (2007) Breeding Chickpea for Improved Adaptation to the Semi-Arid Tropical Environments. In: 7th International Conference on Sustainable Agriculture, Food, Bio‐energy and Livelihood Security, 14 - 16 February 2007, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. India

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Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.), also known as Garbanzo bean or Bengal gram, is the second most cultivated grain legume grown globally after dry bean (FAOSTAT data, 2007). It is cultivated annually on an area of about 10 million hectares over 50 countries. Over 80% of its area is in the semi-arid tropics (SAT) that encompass most of south Asia, parts of southeast Asia, a swathe across sub-Saharan Africa, much of southern and eastern Africa, and parts of Latin America. These regions are characterized by high atmospheric water demand, a high mean annual temperature, limited and erratic monsoonal rainfall, and nutrient poor soils. The major constraints to chickpea production in SAT include terminal drought and heat stresses, fusarium wilt and Helicoverpa pod borer. Soil salinity is also a major constraint to adaptation of chickpea in some areas, particularly in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Australia. High instances of dry root rot are reported from Sub- Saharan Africa and India.

India is the largest chickpea producing country with 64% of global chickpea production (FAOSTAT data, 2007). Chickpea is grown on 6.7 m ha from latitude 32°N in northern India with cooler, long-season environment to 10°N in southern India with warmer, short season environment. There has been a large, shift in chickpea area from north to central and southern India, mainly because of expansion in area under irrigation and wheat cultivation in northern India. During the past four decades, chickpea area declined by about 4.2 m ha in northern and north-eastern states (Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar) and increased by 2.6 m ha in central and southern states (Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh). This drastic shift in chickpea cultivation from cooler, long-season environments to warmer, short-season environments resulted in chickpeas being more prone to abiotic and biotic stresses that are prevalent in warm short season environments (e.g. terminal drought and heat stresses).

The crop improvement efforts at ICRISAT and National Agricultural Research System (NARS) in SAT countries have largely focused on improving adaptation of chickpea to SAT environments by enhancing resistance/tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses prevalent in SAT environments. This paper reviews recent progress in breeding chickpea for improved adaptation to the SAT environments.

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