Indian farmers reap profits from machine-harvestable Chickpea

Machine-harvestable chickpea variety ‘Phule Vikram’, which was launched two years ago in India, is helping farmers circumvent labor shortage during harvest in major chickpea producing states like Maharashtra. Besides reducing cost, Vikram is also proving highly remunerative, given its yield potential.

“I cultivated Phule Vikram on 20 hectares and harvested 60 tons during 2018-19. The produce was sold as seed at Rs 70,000 per ton (US$ 1000),” said Mr Chandrakant Ambadasrao Deshmukh, a farmer from the Indian state of Maharashtra, who reported earnings of Rs 3.4 million (US$ 48,600) from his produce. Mr Takalimiya and Mr Rajendra Patel, two other farmers from the state, also said they achieved high yields with the variety.

Shortage of labor in agriculture, mainly for harvesting and threshing, is a challenge chickpea farmers in India are increasingly facing. As a result, high-yielding machine-harvestable varieties are sought. This rising demand led to the release of machine-harvestable varieties, including Vikram, for all of India’s central zone.

In Maharashtra, one of the Indian states where Vikram was first released in 2017, the cultivation of machine-harvestable varieties has been rising. The average chickpea productivity in the state in 2017-18 was 892 kg per hectare resulting from total production of 1.84 million tons on 2 million hectares. Farmers cultivating Vikram have reported yields ranging between 3 and 4 ton per hectare.

Vikram was developed by a team of scientists including Dr NS Kute, Dr. SR Gadakh, and Mr LB Mhase from Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth from ICRISAT’s breeding line ICCV 08108.

MPKV has strong collaboration in chickpea breeding with ICRISAT, which has yielded many varieties besides Vikram—Vishal, KAK 2, Virat, Vihar JG 11 and JAKI 9218.

Farmer Chandrakant Deshmukh with Phule Vikram crop. Photo: ICRISAT