Of the 57 million metric tonnes of pulses produced annually on a global basis, chickpea is the third most important, following dry bean and field pea. The average annual production of chickpea is approximately 7.2 million metric tonnes, with annual traded product at only 500,000 metric tonnes.
- desi types account for approximately 85 per cent of global chickpea production, with the bulk produced in the Indian subcontinent
- kabuli types account for about 15 per cent of global chickpea production, with major producers being Turkey, Syria, Iran, Mexico, Morocco and Ethiopia
- compared to desi types, a greater proportion of global kabuli production is traded rather than consumed domestically – Turkey and Mexico are the main exporters
Chickpea is grown almost exclusively for human consumption. Use is determined by seed type and ethnic culture:
- in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the bulk of desi seeds are de-hulled, split and the cotyledons used as a food called dhal
- dhal is utilized either in the preparation of a thin spiced porridge, which forms an accompaniment to most Indian meals, or is further ground to flour (besan) for the preparation of fried, sweet or savory snacks or for besan curry
- kabuli seeds are cooked as whole seeds and are important components of many traditional West Asian and North African dishes involving rice, vegetables or meat
- kabuli seeds can also be boiled, ground and mixed with oil to produce a dip product called hummus
- in developed countries, whole kabuli seeds are used as a vegetable, mainly in salads, soups and stews
An increase in the estimated production of chickpea and the need for quality assurance of the crop led to the need for a grade schedule. Kabuli had been graded by using a “Bean” category, but this method is not suitable for desi varieties.
- Damaged: is whole or split chickpea that is sprouted, frost damaged, heated, insect damaged and chickpea that is distinctly deteriorated or discoloured by weather or disease.
- Cracked seed coats: is chickpea with visibly cracked seed coats – if the chickpea is otherwise damaged, it is included in the tolerance for damage (not cracked seed coats).
- Chickpea with all or part of the seed coat removed.
- Broken chickpea with less than one fourth of the chickpea broken off is considered as damage.
- Splits: include split chickpea, broken pieces that are less than three quarters of the whole seed and halves that are loosely held together by the seed coat.
- Green: is chickpea that when cut in half, is a distinct green throughout. Pale green or immature seeds are taken into account in the evaluation of colour.
- Foreign material: includes any material other than chickpea or split chickpea not removed in cleaning.
- Good natural colour: chickpea that is sound, well matured and have a normal colour.
- Fair colour: chickpea that is immature but not green, moderate amounts of adhered soil, lightly stained or otherwise moderately discoloured from natural causes.
- Poor colour: chickpea that does not meet the definition of fair colour