REDUCES FOOD IMPORT NEEDS
In Bangladesh, the economic and nutritional benefits that improved lentils have brought to the population are well documented. Bangladesh grows some 150,000 ha of lentil, but has traditionally needed to import more than half of its consumption. Joint research between ICARDA and the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) has helped reduce this gap with the development of a number of new lentil varieties.
These new varieties are generally short duration, high yielding with resistance or tolerance to crop diseases such as rust and blight. Lentils are grown in the post-rainy season, about half as a sole crop and half intercropped with wheat, oilseeds or other crops.
In 2009 an ICARDA impact study showed improved varieties on over 110,000 ha in Bangladesh, delivering an annual extra production gain of some 55,000 tons, and valued at US$38 million annually. That’s a significant figure in an economy as fragile as Bangladesh.
It’s reckoned that 1.1 million farmers (average land-holding 0.1 ha) are now benefiting from increased farm incomes and extra household lentil consumption. About 5.5 million people are assessed to be receiving direct benefit from improved BARI/ICARDA lentil technologies.
Farmers use the extra income to purchase clothes and medicine, for funding the education of their children, building brick houses, buying rice and bullocks, and for repaying loans.
BOOSTING INCOME AND NUTRITION IN ETHIOPIA
Similar lentil magic has been at work in Ethiopia in collaborative efforts between the Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research and ICARDA. Their joint legumes program has delivered chickpea varieties that can be successfully grown in waterlogged and fungal disease-prone areas as well as lentils that yield six times the harvest of traditional landraces.
An IFPRI impact study in 2010 showed that the release and uptake of high yielding, rust and wilt resistant lentil varieties in Ethiopia has increased the growing area and harvest at an annual rate of 15% from 1994 to 2009. This resulted in 105,956 ha cropped with lentils, and 123,777 tons of production in the 2009/2010 cropping season.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
Shiv Kumar Agrawal Email: S.Agrawal[AT]cgiar.org