New project boosts lentil yields in India

September 17, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Extra crop, extra profits: lentil in a rice fallow in Bengal. Lentil was planted into the standing rice crop;
the pale stalks are harvested rice plants

ICARDA and its partners in India are helping to expand production of lentil – one of the country’s most important sources of dietary protein. The research program, funded by the National Food Security Mission, covers four states: Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Partners include the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, the Indian Council for Agricultural Research, Assam Agricultural University, Rajendra Agricultural University, Indian Institute of Pulses Research, Pulses & Oilseeds Research Station – Berhampore, and NGOs in Bihar and West Bengal.

The project met or surpassed all targets for the 2011-12 season. Activities have expanded to 98 villages and more than 1500 farmers. Five to seven new lentil varieties were tested in each project area, jointly by farmers and project staff. Demonstration plots now cover 527 hectares. Village-based seed cooperatives, established at every project site, produced more than 300 tons of high-quality seed. More than 150 training events (workshops, courses, field days) were organized, allowing thousands of farmers to become familiar with new lentil technologies.

One key objective is to introduce lentil as a second (extra) crop during the period when rice fields are normally left fallow. Lentil has been introduced in rice fallows on a pilot area of 180 hectares. A separate ICAR-ICARDA initiative has introduced lentil cultivation – for the first time – in two non-project states, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya. Following excellent results this season, farmers in Meghalaya have requested seed of three lentil varieties developed by ICAR and ICARDA, to plant next season.

By simply replacing their traditional varieties with improved ones, farmers increased yields by 10-20%. Those who used new varieties together with improved management methods increased yields by up to 65%.

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