Majority of the Indian people are vegetarian and they depend primarily upon grain legumes for dietary protein. Unfortunately the production of grain legumes in India has remained stagnant since 1950 causing declining per capita availability and widespread malnutrition. This is because most of the good lands have gone to the green revolution led ‘wheat-rice’ and ‘rice-rice’ cropping systems and food legumes have been pushed to marginal lands. Also, the traditional food legume varieties are late in maturity with low yield potential. This has led to inadequate protein and minerals in the diets of rural and urban masses and imbalanced soil fertility due to cereal-cereal rotation. Therefore, increased cultivation of pulses is urgently needed. How can this be achieved with the limited land is one of the major challenges of agricultural research. The only answer is to breed and cultivate short duration food legumes in the existing niches between cereal-cereal systems. Wheat is harvested in March–April and rice is transplanted in July leaving about 80-90 days gap in which a short duration food legume can be grown. A number of photo-insensitive and heat tolerant ‘60-day cowpea’ varieties have been recently developed by Pantnagar University which were tested under farmer participatory on-farm trials and All India Multi-location Coordinated Trials with the support from Harvest Plus Project of Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). These varieties can be grown as a niche crop in the wheat-rice cropping system of northern India which has a potential area of over 10 million hectare (ha).
This work is an output of the HarvestPlus Programme. The Department for International Development is one of the main donors for HarvestPlus.
Singh, Y. V., B. B. Singh, Preeti Massey, and P. K. Singh. 2017. Short duration cowpea varieties for cultivation as a niche crop in various cropping systems for enhanced pulse production. Agricultural Science Digest 37 (3): 232-236. https://doi.org/10.18805/asd.v37i03.8996.
Short duration cowpea varieties for cultivation as a niche crop in various cropping systems for enhanced pulse production