Indian Society of Genetics & Plant Breeding

Genetic enhancement of food legumes for nutritional security and sustainable cereal-based cropping systems

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Food legume crops are cultivated since the earliest days
of agriculture for human food and animal feed.Today these
crops are grown globally, providing food and nutritional
security. In particular, they are the main source of protein,
macro and micronutrients in the diets of medium to lowincome people in most developing countries. Besides their
nutritional value, food legumes are important nitrogen
fixers, contributing to soil health improvement and thus
providing sustainable cropping system. However, global
food legume production of about 67 million tons per year
is insufficient to meet demand from ever-increasing
populations, particularly in Africa and Asia. Food legumes
are grown mainly by small and marginal farmers under
rainfed conditions in marginal areas, leading to low and
unstable yields. Moreover, they have long been ‘orphan
crops’, receiving very little attention from researchers and
policy makers.To attain a sustainable increased production
in food legumes, several international research centers
are working closely with national institutions to address
these issues. The International Center for Agricultural
Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), located in the center
of origin of many food legume species, is engaged in
research to develop and deliver improved food legume
technologies to farmers. The research covers multiple
crops (lentil, faba bean, Kabuli chickpea, grasspea) and
involves a multidisciplinary team comprising breeders,
biotechnologists, pathologists, entomologists, and seed
specialists, To date, a total of 368 improved varieties of
these crops have been released for cultivation in various
countries, jointly developed by ICARDA and national

Keywords: Food legumes, rainfed areas, genetic diversity, micronutrients, diseases


Year: 2014
Volume: 74
Issue: Supplementry Issue
Article DOI: 10.5958/0975-6906.2014.00888.8
Print ISSN: 0019-5200
Online ISSN: 0975-6906



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