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Hyderabad, Feb. 8

THE International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat)has developed a technology to produce hybrid pigeonpea variety.

Plant breeders can now use the technology, which involves crossing the wild relative of pigeonpea Cajanifolius with the cultivated variety to produce stable, cytoplasmic male-sterility based hybrids for commercialisation.

The new hybrids can almost double the productivity to about 3 tonnes per hectare, in comparison to released commercial varieties. According to Dr William Dar, Director General, Icrisat, the new hybrid technology has been made possible through partnership with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and private sector companies.

According to Dr K.B. Saxena, principal pigeonpea breeder at Icrisat, three varieties have been developed and were ready for use. While the short-duration pigeonpea varieties mature between 120 and 140 days, the medium-duration ones mature between 160 and 180 days, and the long-duration ones take more than 250 days.

In evaluation, these hybrids showed near-doubled productivity, high stability and no plant deformity.

Pigeonpea (also known as tuvar dal or arhar dal in India) is annually grown over 4 million hectares by resource-poor farmers. In spite of releasing several varieties in the past, the crop's productivity had plateaued at low levels, raising concern among scientists and farmers.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 9, 2005)
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