Uptake and impact of the promotion of chickpea following rainfed rice in the Barind area of Bangladesh
PSP has funded R7540 Promotion of chickpea following rainfed rice in the Barind area of Bangladesh since 1999, building on earlier diverse crop-based initiatives to improve the livelihoods of poor farmers in the High Barind Tract (HBT) of Bangladesh. Chickpea was promoted as a suitable crop for farmers to grow on residual moisture, i.e. without irrigation, following the harvest of transplanted main season (aman) rice. A good combination of agronomic practices had been developed but the principal constraint remained the difficulty in establishing a reasonable crop stand once the surface layers of the soil had dried out. 'Onfarm' seed priming had been developed elsewhere in other PSP-funded projects (R6395, R7438) and was tested for chickpea in the Barind.
A study was made in 2001/2002 of the uptake and impact of chickpea technology, including seed priming, by project- and non-project farmers. Survey results indicate that the project interventions have contributed positively in many ways to the socio-economic development of the farmers of the HBT. Most of the farmers in the project intervention areas recognize chickpea as a low-cost, highly profitable crop that can be cultivated without irrigation. Fiftyfive percent of the respondents practiced seed priming in 2001-02 and, on average, they sowed 60% of their chickpea crop using primed seed. The overall average additional yield due to use of seed-priming technology was 230 kg ha-1, which is about 44% higher than nonprimed plots that yielded an average of 600 kg ha-1.
Location-wise benefit/cost analysis showed that chickpea is a very profitable crop in comparison to other major competing crops in almost all situations. The overall average income of the respondents from chickpea was Tk 7134, which is about 12% of the average reported farming income. Contribution of chickpea to incomes was higher in project intervention areas and was proportionally more important for small- and medium level farmers.
The conservatively estimated return of seed priming alone indicates that, single-season benefits in this one year were 1.35 times the total project investment over three years.