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Scaling Up Food Legume Production Through Genetic Gain and Improved Management

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Abstract

Legumes occupy a very important place in food systems for being the main source of protein for very large vegetarian population globally as such and an important component of sustainable agriculture because of their unique ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen biologically. However, productivity and production in legumes is quite low to commensurate with the current and future demands. Countries like India with a large population had to import 5–six million tons of legumes annually to meet local demand till recently. Low genetic potential of existing varieties with farmers and poor management practices result in low productivity of legumes. New science developments like development of hybrid technology in pigeon pea, marker-assisted breeding, as well as gene editing/splicing and genetic transformations have opened up new vistas for developing high-yielding and stress-tolerant legume cultivars. Most tropical soils where most legumes are grown are degraded, and widespread deficiencies of secondary and micronutrients are observed in Asia and Africa. In order to harness the best available potential of legumes to produce protein-rich food as well as build soil health, integrated system approach needs to be adopted and followed. Soil health mapping across various agro-ecologies and addressing the issues of seed supply systems along with efficient knowledge delivery systems are a must. Good results by adopting integrated system approach in India showed that farmers enhanced the productivity of legumes by 20–50% in crops like pigeon pea, chickpea, soybean, green gram, groundnut, and black gram. One rupee spent on soil test-based fertility management in integrated approach brought returns of Rs 3 to Rs 15. Replacement of existing pigeon pea and chickpea varieties used by farmers with high-yielding improved cultivars showed increased productivity by 30% to 120%. Mission projects like Bhoochetana covering 4.75 million ha in Karnataka and also in Andhra Pradesh have demonstrated the need for development research to overcome the death valley of impacts and ensure sustainable productivity by overcoming compartmental approach. A new paradigm in agricultural development research is needed to benefit the farmers through science-based interventions.

Keywords

  • Agronomic practices
  • Fallow cultivation
  • Information and communications technology
  • Pulses
  • Nutrient management
  • Water
  • New technologies

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Notes

  1. 1.

    http://maps.thelist.tas.gov.au/listmap/app/list/map?bookmarkId=216124

  2. 2.

    www.mkisan.gov.in

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Acknowledgments

We sincerely acknowledge the state governments of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh and Ministry of Water Resources and Department of Agriculture, Farmers’ Welfare and Co-operation, Governments of India, and Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and Sir Ratan Tata Trust, Mumbai, for financial support. We also acknowledge the help of implementing partners in the consortium in different states as well as the farmers who conducted the trials.

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Wani, S.P., Chander, G., Patil, M.D., Sawargavkar, G., Kumar, S. (2021). Scaling Up Food Legume Production Through Genetic Gain and Improved Management. In: Saxena, K.B., Saxena, R.K., Varshney, R.K. (eds) Genetic Enhancement in Major Food Legumes. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-64500-7_10

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