Domesticated chickpeas have been found at Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (8500–7500 BC) sites in Turkey and the Levant, namely at Çayönü, Hacilar, and Tell es-Sultan (Jericho). They were also domesticated in the Fertile Crescent around 7000 BC. Chickpeas then spread to the Mediterranean region around 6000 BC, and to India around 3000 BC.
They were found in the late Neolithic (about 3500 BC) at Thessaly, Kastanas, Lerna and Dimini, Greece. In southern France, Mesolithic layers in a cave at L'Abeurador, Hérault, have yielded wild chickpeas carbon-dated to 6790±90 BC.
Chickpeas are mentioned in Charlemagne's Capitulare de villis (about 800 AD) as cicer italicum, as grown in each imperial demesne. Albertus Magnus mentions red, white, and black varieties. Nicholas Culpeper noted "chick-pease or cicers" are less "windy" than peas and more nourishing. Ancient people also associated chickpeas with Venus because they were said to offer medical uses such as increasing sperm and milk, provoking menstruation and urine, and helping to treat kidney stones. "White cicers" were thought to be especially strong and helpful.
The secondary data available at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Corporate Statistical Database (FAOSTAT) for the period of 1961–2017 was used in the study for the analysis of data. Hence, the accuracy of the results presented here are directly dependent on the FAO data source and the classifications therein. Despite the many limitations and weakness of the FAO data (Akibode & Maredia, 2012) on grain legumes, this report used the FAOSTAT as the primary source of time-series secondary data. This study focuses on the chickpea (Cicer arietinum) grain crop. Dry bean (Phaseolus spp.), dry broad bean (Vicia faba), chickpea (Cicer arietinum), dry cowpea (Vigna ungiculanta), pigeon pea (Cajanus cajun), lentil (Lens culinaris), and other pulses production status also included. In many developed and developing countries, these grain legumes have become the main component of farming systems and food of producers and consumers.
When the analysis was carried out for this study, the export and import data were available until 2016, and the production data were available till 2017 which was used for chickpea crop. Detailed production data were available in FAOSTAT for chickpea, dry bean, dry broad bean or fababean, dry cowpea, pigeon pea, and lentils that have been analyzed in this study. For all other crops, domestic availability (the sum of production and net trade, i.e., production + (export-imports)) has been calculated to serve as a proxy for demand. Simple statistical measures such as the mean and the compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) have been computed to analyze the trends. The availability of the crop differs from consumption with regard to stock variation from year to year, seed and wastage.
Grain legumes are important as it is a source of income and nutrition to billions of smallholder farmers and consumers around the world. The main objective of this report is to examine the global and regional trends in area under cultivation, production, yield, trade, price, and consumption of chickpea. The trend analysis reveals the growing importance of chickpea crop across all economies and the lack of research efforts in the world. In the developed economies, the commercial benefits from expanding chickpea production are being realized more than ever in the past few decades.
Another matter of concern in chickpea production is the yield gap between developing countries and developed countries. This is evident from the fact that production in developed countries has increased due to yield improvements whereas in developing countries it has been primarily due to area expansion. Shifting chickpea cultivation to limited-irrigation zones and improving input usage can have a huge impact on boosting yields. Moreover, the government should take steps policy measures reduce the trade-off between land allocated for cereals and pulses substantially.
Chickpea have a thin and volatile market. A persistent increase in the demand for food chickpea legumes in Asia and Africa has led to a rise in imports. The money that is lost on foreign exchange could well be invested in the domestic market for attaining self-sufficiency. The demand for chickpea pulses spurred by the population and income growth in the developing countries has resulted in some developed countries increasing their domestic production to capture these markets. Therefore, it is high time the developed and developing countries to realize the huge potential of pulses in increasing the soil fertility and nutrition and take steps in increasing the productivity and thus, the production of chickpea.
Remarkable progress has been made in the production of chickpea in the past several decades. Yields have improved considerably which is a likely consequence of sustained research efforts by the international centers, ICARDA and ICRISAT, and national research and breeding programs. Expansion of production in new regions, particularly Australia and North America, has significantly contributed to overall world production and availability of the commodity in international markets. World trade has increased markedly in the past two decades likely due to demands of an increasing population and improving purchasing power of in developing countries. The outlook for chickpea is excellent considering the excellent nutrient concentrations and food value. Expansion of production to meet expanding demand is expected to continue.