The overall goal of the project is to enhance income of the farmers, particularly marginal farmers, in five states (Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa) of India by increasing productivity and production of chickpea. The average yield of chickpea in India is about 800 kg ha-1, which is less than one-third of that obtained at research stations and in on-farm trials. Over 150 improved varieties of chickpea have been released in India, but only very few varieties have been adopted and become popular with farmers. It has been often emphasized that the varieties will have better acceptability by the farmers, if they are developed through farmers' participatory selection.
Three outputs specified for this project were: (1) Advanced breeding material available for selection from crosses involving Dahod Yellow Local x ICCV 2 and ICCV 2 x Bhawani Patna Local, (2) Understanding of the factors determining farmers' preference, and (3) Economic value of farmers' selections understood. ICRISAT was assigned responsibility for achieving the first Output. The remaining outputs would be achieved by the DFID through NGO and State Agricultural Universities. It was planned to develop a large breeding population from each of these crosses in a short period using the method of rapid generation advancement. The parents involved in the crosses were carefully selected. The desi type (brown-seeded) cultivars, Dahod Yellow Local and Bhawani Patna Local are still popular with farmers in western and north-eastern India, respectively. ICCV 2 is the world's shortest duration kabuli (white-seeded) variety of chickpea developed by ICRISAT and widely grown in India, Myanmar and Sudan. It has resistance to Fusarium wilt, some tolerance to heat and escapes terminal drought due to early maturity. The kabuli x desi crosses give a wide range of segregants. The farmers will have ample opportunity for selection of desirable types. A large segregating population (over 20,000 plants) was developed from each of the two crosses, Dahod Yellow Local x ICCV 2 and ICCV 2 x Bhawani Patna local. The F2 and F3 generations were grown in the off-season in greenhouse using rapid generation advancement. The F4 was grown in field and subjected to selection for 2nd April 2001 2 maturity duration. All late maturing plants were rejected. The F4 of ICCV 2 x Bhawani Patna Local was sown in wilt-screening nursery and screened for resistance to Fusarium wilt. The plants retained in F4 were harvested individually and their seeds were examined carefully. All plants with darker-colored or smaller seed than the local cultivars were rejected. F5 seeds of selected plants were sent to the NGO Gramin Vikas Trust (GVT) for subjecting the lines to farmers' participatory selection in target states.
The project has made available the required populations for farmer participatory selection in the stipulated time frame. GVT and State Agricultural Universities will subject these to farmers' participatory selection in targeted states. It is hoped that this material will lead to development of some farmers' preferred short-duration high yielding chickpea varieties.