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Description | Overview | History | Cultivation pattern | Chickpea producing countries | Indian chana market | Major trading centers

Chickpea or chana is a very important pulse crop that grows as a seed of a plant named Cicer arietinum in the Leguminosae family. This light brown colored pulse is considered to be a good source of protein and is also called by the name of Garbanzo beans. Chana is used as an edible seed and is also used for making flour throughout the globe. Having a capacity to stand in drought conditions, this crop doesn’t have the requirement of being fed with nitrogen fertilizers.

The varieties of chana or chickpea are separated on the basis the seed size, color and taste. Two of those varieties, namely Kabuli and Desi, as they are termed in India, are very important in terms of usage and commercial purposes.


Chickpea is a highly nutritious pulse and places third in the importance list of the food legumes that are cultivated throughout the world. It contains 25% proteins, which is the maximum provided by any pulse and 60% carbohydrates. There are mainly two types of chickpea produced i.e. Desi and Kabuli. They can be separated on the basis of their following features

  • Desi chickpea – These are spilt peas and are relatively smaller in size having a thicker seed coat. They appear dark brown in color and they can be used and served in many ways.

  • Kabuli Chickpeas – Kabuli chickpeas have a whitish-cream color and are relatively bigger in size having a thinner seed coat. They are generally used in soups /salads or as flour

The world’s total production of chickpeas hovers around 8.5 million metric tons annually and is grown over 10 million hectares of land approximately. The Desi type chickpea contribute to around 80% and the Kabuli type around 20% of the total production. India is the largest producer of this pulse contributing to around 70% of the world’s total production. Desi type chickpeas largely dominate the ratio of production in India. Regarding the consumption pattern, all most all of the chickpea is consumed in the countries where it is produced.

According to World Trade Statistics, the total world exports in 2002 were 743 thousand tons. The major exporter countries of chickpea are: -

  • Turkey

  • Australia

  • Mexico

  • Canada

  • Syria

  • United States

The top three exporting countries i.e. Turkey, Australia and Mexico have a combine share of over 75% of the world total exports of chickpeas. The imports figure around 500 thousand tons in a year and is not concentrated as in the case of the chickpea exports. Around 3/4th share of imports is divided among the following countries with India representing a share of around 30% of the total world imports: -

  • India

  • Spain

  • Bangladesh

  • Algeria

  • Tunisia

  • Jordan

  • Italy

  • Pakistan

  • Sri Lanka

  • United Kingdom

  • United States

  • Saudi Arabia

Countries in the Asian continent are the major importer of Desi type chickpea and the remaining countries import Kabuli type chickpea.


Chana or chickpea is an ancient crop that marked its origination even before 10000 B.C when it was used by the ‘hunter-gatherer societies’ for eating and sustaining their communities. The regions of Turkey and the ancient city of Jericho domesticated this crop around 7500 B.C and since then, it started getting famous. Chickpea was brought to the Western Europe and was known in many areas in the Bronze Age, most popularly, Italy and Greece. Those people consumed chickpea in various forms like roasted as snacks, raw, carbonized or in broth. Many past writings have also been found telling the uses and importance of chickpeas both medical and as a food crop.


With time, many other varieties of chickpea were developed as it was reached many areas of Asia and Australia. During the First World War, Germany cultivated chickpea as a coffee substitute.

Cultivation pattern

As chickpea has a deep tap root which enhances its capacity to stand drought conditions, it is usually suited to those areas having relatively cooler climatic conditions and a low level of rainfall. It yields best when grown on sandy, loam soils having an appropiate drainage system as this crop is vey sensitive to the excess water aviailability and a lack of such system can hamper the yield levels. The production of chickpea or chana is also affected in excessive cold conditions.

Chickpea is seeded in the months of September to November in India and that is why it is comes under the category of rabi crops. In US, this crop is planted around mid April. The maturity period of desi type chickpea is 95-105 days and of kabuli type chickpea is 100-110 days. Harvesting of the plant is done when its leaves start drying and shedding and can be done directly or with the help of a harvester. In India, it is harvested in February, March and April.

This crop is often cultivated as a sole crop but sometimes it is also grown rotationally with other crops such as jowar, bajra, wheat and coriander. Pale yellow, dark brown, black or reddish chickpea are some of the varieties that are grown today.

Chickpea(Chana) producing countries


The major producing countries of chickpea are: -

  • India*

  • Pakistan*

  • Turkey

  • Iran

  • Myanmar*

  • Ethiopia

  • Mexico

  • Australia*

  • Syria

  • Spain

  • Canada

  • United States

  • Bangladesh*

  • Algeria

  • Ethiopia

  • Malawi

  • Sudan

  • Tanzania

  • Tunisia

  • Spain

  • Portugal

The production of chickpea in the countries with * sign is dominated by the Desi type chickpeas. The other countries are indulged mainly in the production of Kabuli type chickpeas. The world production of chickpeas in 2003-04 was 8660000 metric tons. India is the largest producer of chickpea followed by Pakistan, Turkey and Iran. India produces around 6000000 and contributes around 70% of the world total production. The production of this crop follows a variable trend as the major producer i.e. India itself has a variable trend of production.

Production of chana in India

Chana is grown in the drier areas of the country as they are best suited for its production. Chickpea producing states in India are: -

  • Madhya Pradesh

  • Uttar Pradesh

  • Rajasthan

  • Maharashtra

  • Andhra Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh produces the major share of around 40% in the Indian production of around 6 million tons. Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan follow Madhya Pradesh contributing to 16% and 14% of production respectively. Since 1990, a rise in the productivity of chickpea in India has been observed from 614 kg per hectare to 735 kg per hectare.

Indian chana market

Chana is the most important pulse grown in the Indian subcontinent. Most of the people in the country satisfy their appetite requirements by consuming pulses and Chana is the most dominating pulse in that list. Chickpea is the most largely produced pulse crop in India accounting to a share of 40% of the total pulse crops produced in India and that makes it the leading chickpea producing country in the world. India produces around 6 million tons of chana annually and contributes a major share of approximately 70% in the total world production. India produces mostly the Desi type chickpeas and not the Kabuli type.

The domestic demand of chickpea is so large that after it being the largest producer of chana, India is also the largest importer of chana in the world. Over 4/5ths of the chana produced in the country is used to produce ‘Chana Dal’ and over 4/5ths of this ‘Dal’ is ground to make flour termed as ‘Besan’ in India. The Indian imports figure around 3-4 lakh tons i.e. 30% of the total world imports. The countries which exports chickpea to India are

  • Canada

  • Australia

  • Iran

  • Myanmar

  • Tanzania

  • Pakistan

  • Turkey

  • France

India also exports some of its chickpea produce to other nations for the consumption of people of Indian origin living in those countries. These countries are: -

  • USA

  • UK

  • Saudi Arabia

  • UAE

  • Sri Lanka

  • Malaysia

Market Influencing Factors

  • Rainfall level and level of moisture in the soil

  • Obstruction in the information movement

  • Black-marketing and hoarding

  • Crop situation in the countries from where India imports the crop

  • Prices of the other competitive pulses produced

Major trading centers of chickpea


Major trading centers of chana in India are: -

  • Indore (Madhya Pradesh)

  • Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh)

  • Vidisha (Madhya Pradesh)

  • Jalgaon (Maharashtra)

  • Latur (Maharashtra)

  • Mumbai (Maharashtra)

  • Akola (Maharashtra)

  • Jaipur (Rajasthan)

  • Bikaner (Rajasthan)

  • Kota (Rajasthan)

  • Jodhpur (Rajasthan)

  • Sriganaganagar (Rajasthan)

  • Hanumangarh (Rajasthan)

  • Delhi

  • Chennai

  • Kanpur

  • Hapur

  • Hyderabad

  • Vijayawada

  • Gulbarga

  • Sirsa

  • Jalandhar

  • Ludhiana

  • Sangrur

Also, chana is traded in Indian commodity exchanges namely, National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange ltd, Multi Commodity Exchange of India ltd, National Multi Commodity Exchange of India ltd and Bikaner Commodity Exchange Ltd., Bikaner


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