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Book: Challenges and Strategies of Dryland Agriculture
Published by: Crop Science Society of America and American Society of Agronomy



  1.  p. 243-256
    CSSA Special Publication 32.
    Challenges and Strategies of Dryland Agriculture

    Srinivas C. Rao and John Ryan (ed.)

    ISBN: 978-0-89118-611-3


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Forage Legumes for Dryland Agriculture in Central and West Asia and North Africa

  1. Ali M. Abd El Moneim and
  2. John Ryan
  1. ICARDA, Aleppo Syria


The agriculture of the Mediterranean zone is dominated by rainfed cereal cultivation in conjunction with livestock rising. As legumes are indigenous to the region, they are alternated with cereals and provide an essential source of biological nitrogen (N) for the cereals. Food legumes such as Kabuli-type chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) and lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.) are basic foods for humans, while annual and perennial forage legumes provide valuable animal feed as grazing and hay. Since its inception, research at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) has focused on development of forage legumes in association with the national agricultural systems of the West Asia-North Mrica region. While much effort has been expended on perennial self-regenerating medic (Medicago spp.), adoption was limited because of technical difficulties. The greatest potential was with annual vetch (Vicia spp.) as a viable animal feed source and a rotation crop with cereals. Emphasis was also placed on forage legumes that survive harsh conditions by their unique underground growth habit, for example, V. amphicarpa and Lathyrus ciliolatus. Efforts to improve forage legumes were based on both management/cultural factors and breeding. Development of forage legumes is essential to agricultural sustainability in the Mediterranean region and in other areas of the world where grazing livestock area a dominant feature.

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