Breeding program to strengthen $590 million chickpea export industry

A national chickpea breeding program has been launched under the banner of Chickpea Breeding Australia, to be based in Tamworth NSW.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) has launched its latest Chickpea Breeding Australia program to improve chickpea production across Australia.

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said the Australian Government’s investment in GRDC is delivering for chickpea growers, and that the new chickpea breeding program would boost chickpea production value and offer greater opportunities for export producers.

“Chickpea Breeding Australia will help expand development of new chickpea varieties in existing and new production areas,” Minister Littleproud said.

“This investment will deliver more trial plots across the country, meaning the expansion of chickpea growing regions across Australia.

“The research aims to increase yield, quality and disease resistance of chickpea varieties.

“Chickpea production is forecast to reach 708,000 tonnes in 2020-21, an increase of 152 per cent on the previous year. This equates to a forecast gross production value of $580 million in 2020-21.

“The value of chickpea exports for 2020-21 is forecast to reach $590 million, up from $306 million in 2019-20.”

Chickpea Breeding Australia is a $30 million, five-year research collaboration between the GRDC and the NSW Government, and will be delivered from the NSW Department of Primary Industries’ (DPI) Tamworth Agricultural Institute.

A $2.5 million world-class glasshouse and controlled environment room facility has also been unveiled in Tamworth NSW. This state-of-the-art facility will be the headquarters for Chickpea Breeding Australia.

The announcement of the program also coincides with the launch of the latest Australian chickpea variety, CBA Captain.

This latest release erect desi chickpea variety has moderate lodging resistance and excellent harvestability with broad adaptation to all chickpea growing regions across Australia.

The GRDC Chair John Woods said the breeding program was an excellent example of collaboration between the GRDC and NSW DPI that would deliver for growers across the country.

“This investment in both operations and infrastructure will result in significant increases in chickpea breeding capacity over the next five years,” Mr Woods said.

“It will also build on the extensive work done under the previous Pulse Breeding Australia program, which was also led by NSW DPI in partnership with the GRDC, Queensland’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Agriculture Victoria, and the South Australian Research and Development Institute (the research division of the SA Department of Primary Industries and Regions).

“The GRDC has a long history of effective collaboration with research partners to deliver to Australian grain growers, and chickpea breeding is one of our success stories.”

AFDJ Fast Facts:

RDCs are responsible for investing around $800 million each year in agricultural innovation and marketing. Almost $300 million of this is Australian Government funding from taxpayers, and around $500 million comes from industry levies.

In 2019-20, GRDC invested $182 million into its research, development and extension  Portfolio, which includes 719 projects designed to ensure the ongoing profitability of Australia’s grain growers.