Tur (also called arhar , redgram or pigeonpea ), a staple source of protein in vegetarian diet, is rich in calcium too.

Agricultural scientists have now uncovered hitherto unknown strength of tur and found a coat on this seed is rich in calcium outbeating milk six times, says scientists at ICRISAT.

A sample of 100-gram tur seed coat has 652 mg of calcium against 120 mg found in 100 ml of milk.

Unfortunately, the current seed processing discards the coat. “The seed coat fraction, accounting for about 10 per cent of the seed, is a by-product of the split gram (dal) processing industry and it is disposed of either as waste or cattle feed,” the scientists pointed out in a paper published in ‘Sustainability’ journal.

They suggest that it has huge potential as a key input in baby food and mineral supplements.

The scientists feel that it can be used in other food supplements and by pharmaceutical companies to make products addressing osteoporosis and rickets.

The research led by scientists at the ICRISAT’s Gene Bank is now evaluating the bioavailability of the nutrients in tur (scientific name: Cajanus cajan L. Millsp).

“The human body requires 800-1,000 mg of calcium per day, which reports indicate that the contemporary Indian diet is not providing,” the paper observed.

Where it grows

Interestingly, tur is largely grown in the semi-arid tropics of South Asia, Central America, and Africa – the mandate area for the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

Incidentally, India is its biggest producer and consumer globally, accounting for 82 per cent of the cultivation and 77 per cent of production.

India grows tur in about 17 lakh hectares annually and produces about 37.50 lakh tonnes. This is followed by Myanmar (6.76 lakh tonnes) and Malawi (4.30 lakh tonnes).