Disease resistant chickpeas set to boom overseas

The Australian chickpea industry is set for a comeback after researchers developed two new chickpea varieties.

Researchers at the University of Western Australia (UWA) say two new chickpeas will ‘take the Indian market by storm”, and help the industry recover after it was devastated in 1999 by a fungal disease.

The Ambar and Neelam varieties were commercially released this month, with their names chosen to appeal to the export market. The new varieties have taken their names from the Hindi words for “amber” and “blue sapphire”.

According to UWA’s website, Western Australia’s chickpea industry grew rapidly from the mid-1990s and rose to be a 70,000 hectare, grain legume crop until the fungal disease, ascochyta blight, crippled the industry 13 years ago.

Developers of the new varieties, UWA Professors Tanveer Khan and Kadambot Siddique, have confirmed the chickpea’s resistance to ascochyta blight in other parts of Australia and India. This should mean a cut in production costs for farmers as little to no fungicide needs to be used.

"These two new ascochyta resistant varieties should play a pivotal role in rejuvenating the chickpea industry," Professor Siddique said.


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