The ancient wisdom of the Indians about the value
of pulses in human nutrition is perhaps, responsible to a extent
for the wide spread vegetarianism in our country.
The staple pulse component in combination with
cereals in our diet (for example,dalroti and and dal-chawal) eminates
from this recognition, Modern nutritionists also substantiates that
this combination is superior to either pulse or cereal alone.
Our ancestors were also wise to the value of pulse crops
in maintaining and improving the soil fertility, not only by raising
legumes for grain but also for green manuring.
During the last few decades, there has been a spurt
in consumption of fertilisers as a result of which, pulse production
has been pushed aside. However, it is now considered for too costly
to apply desired levels of factory-produced fertilisers to non-leguminous
In times to come, there will naturally be a greater dependence
on nitrogen fixed by legumes because of the declining availability of
petrolium by-products which constitute the raw materials for artificial
More and more countries especially in semi-arid tropics
are now showing growing awareness of the inevitability of resorting
to exploitative farming practices based on legume-non-legume companion
cropping or sequential cropping.
Data reveal that as much as 20 to 60kg N per hectare
may be left by these legumes for the subsequent crop, besides meeting
their own requirements.
We, in this country, are fortunate in having some of
these systems already under practice but they need to be standardised
and further improved.
Chickpea is generally grown on conserved moisture during
the dry season of the year. Throught most of the Indian sub continent,
desi types are grown as an autumn sown winter crop.
As a result of this reliance on conserved moisture, production
is erratic. Low mangement inputs such as fertilization, pest control
and weed control, are the general rule.
Hindi - Chana
Assamee - Butmah
Bengali - Chola
Oriya - Bool
Telugu - Sanagalu
Tamil - Kadalai
Malayalam - Kadalai
Kannada - Kadale
Marathi - Harbara
Gujrati - Chana
Gram is the most important pulse crops grown in India,
ranking fourth among the grain crops in acreage and production.
It occupies over 10 million hectares yielding about 5.4
lakh tons of grain annually in India.
The main producing areas are the upper basins of the
Ganges, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and the adjoining tracts of
Central India, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
Gram is not an important pulse crop in South India. Total
area of gram in South India is 2 lakhs hectares with a production of
94 thousand tons and thus the average yield is very low.
Chanaka (Cicer arietinum L.) in the Sanskrit literature shows
that the cultivation of this pulse has been in vogue in India since
very ancient times.
According to Vavilov (1951) and his colleagues, India and the Middle
East form the primary centre of origin of most of the important legumes.
He included Cicer in the following centres of origin of the cultivated
(i) The Indian or more exactly the Hindustan centre of origin of
the cultivated plants, which includes Burma and Assam and excludes
North west India-Punjab and the North- West Frontier provinces,
(ii) The Central Asiatic Centre, including North-West India (Punjab,
North-West Frontier Provinces, Kashmir), Afghanistan, the Soviet Republics
of Tadjikistan and Uzbekistan and western Tian-Shan,
(iii) the Near-Eastern centre of origin including Asia Minor and
(iv) the Mediterranian centre of origin and
(v) the Abyssinian centre of origin, comprising Abyssinia, somaliland,
Ethiopia (including the Hill country of Eritera).
Only a few beans, such as the French, the lima and the broad have
been introduced into India from tropical America.
In general, India is rich in the species, varieties and forms of pulses.
Papov(1929) regarded Cicer as a comparatively young and incompletely
differentiated group in which the process of individualization type,
both geographical and morphological, still continued and that due to
geographical isolation, races of one species might differ more sharply
among themselves than from the neighbouring closely related species.
The European (Kabuli) and the desi forms of grams may be viewed as
individualized races of Cicer arietinum L established as a result
of such severe geographical isolation.
The chick-pea is extensively cultivated as a winter crop thoughout
India, especially in the Northern States.
According to watt (1908), this is the Cicer of the Romans: parched
seed of Cicer fructnum as an article of food with the poor, has
been mentioned by Horace.
The specific name owes its origin to a not altogether fanciful resemblance
of the seed, when first forming in the pod, to a ram's head (the 'Krios'
of the Greeks).
being eaten raw or boiled as a vegetable, spiced and cooked.
is also parched and eaten.
the grain is split into pulse or dal and eaten variously as usual, bhajias,
chutney, puran-poli or in sweets-like mysore-pak or as phutanas (parched
is largely fed to horses and the leaves and stalks are dried and used
as fodder for cattle.
thrive well on this wholesome diet which helps to build muscle strength.
gram alone or in combination with popped rice is commonly eaten in South
well known that pulses form a very important item of dietary all over
India, being a good source of protein, especially in the vegetarian
has also often been said about the inadequacy of certain nutrients in
the diet of major portion of the population, stressing the need for
an improvement in the quality of grain.
of a nutritional assessment of any pulse is known to be governed by
amount of its total protein content
essential amino acids, viz. cystine, tyrosine, tryptophane and histidine
vitamin and mineral contents.
the different pulses differ in these important constituents.
On a consideration
of the contents of all these constituents,
gram (Cicer arietinum) and black gram (Phaseolus
mungo) have been assigned a higher order of nutritive merit,
green gram (Phaseolus aureus), lentil (Lens esculenta)
and soybean (Glycine max) being the next best. Then follow
red gram (Cajanus cajan) and the horse gram (Dolichos
biflorus), the rest being comparatively, inferior, mainly lacking
in their biological value and not protein.
study of the range of vitamin content of the various pulses is, however,
the above is a broad comparison of the nutritive value of individual
pulses, the innumerable species, varieties and forms thereof are further
likely to afford considerable variation in each or some of these constituents.
protein content was found to be higher in the case of the grain reaped
from alluvial soil, it appears that the fertility status of the soil
has considerable effect on the protein content of the grain as is often
evidenced with better fertilization.