Genetic Variability in Food and Feed Traits of Early Maturing Desi Chickpea (Cicer arietinum) for Multi- Dimensional Improvement
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This study aimed to determine whether straw traits can be integrated into multi-trait improvement of chickpea. Twenty-four improved varieties and one local variety released for high grain yield were replicated 4-times in a randomized complete block trial in two locations in Ethiopia. Straw of the local variety was treated with 4% urea on DM basis and the change in nutritive value was used as a baseline to qualify enhancement of nutritive value as a result of varietal variation. All straw samples were evaluated for proximate analysis and ME using a combination of conventional nutritional laboratory analyses and near infrared reflectance spectroscopy. Effect of variety, location and variety×location interaction on grain yield, straw yield and straw nutritive value was significant (P<0.05). Urea treatment significantly (P<0.001) improved straw content of CP and ME by 49 and 4%, respectively. The average exploitable genotypic range was higher than the effect of urea treatment by 8.3 units for CP and 0.35 units for ME. Correlation between grain yield and straw traits was weak in all locations. It is concluded that there is a possibility to simultaneously improve grain yield and straw traits of chickpea using appropriate breeding programs. Genetic improvement of the nutritive value of chickpea straw would provide farmers with a sustainable alternative to urea treatment.