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.