Green Gram (Vigna radiata)

Green Gram (Vigna radiata)

Origin and domestication of Green Gram

India has been universally accepted as the original home of pulse crop green gram ( Vigna radiata ). green gram spread to many countries, especially in tropical and subtropical Asia from India. Currently, the green gram is being grown in USA.
The progenitor of green grams is believed to be Vigna trilobata grown, wild in India. It has a Sanskrit name mudgaparni ( literally meaning plant having leaves like those of mung bean or green gram). The Latin name for green gram is Vigna radiata a The Sanskrit name for green gram has been mudga from which mung has been derived, and all North Indian languages have derivations of the word mung. In most South Indian languages, names for green gram relate to the Tamil name, pasipayir. However, it is called hesaru in Karnataka. The mudga (green gram) has been mentioned in the Yajurveda (c. 7000 BC).

Seed and sowing of Green Gram

Kautilya’s Arthasastra (321–296 BC) mentions preservation of seed for sowing in the next season. As pointed out earlier, the seed for sowing was to be exposed to dew and sunlight for 3–5 days ( Shamasastry, 1961; Nene, 1999; 2002). In the medieval Sultanic/Mughal period (1206–1650 AD), it was specified that seed should be mixed with cow dung for faster seedling growth and ultimately for higher yield (Naqvi, 1984). Majumdar (1984) reported a 14th century practice of soaking black gram seeds in bird droppings before sowing to ensure faster growth. In the 16th century text Bhavaprakash Nighantu (Chunekar and Pandey, 1998), and also in Watt (1889), it is mentioned that there were green, yellow, red, or black-seeded “varieties” of green gram. It is also mentioned that many “varieties” had an intermediate color range.

Green Gram Crops in field

Kashyapa mentioned line sowing as early as in 800 AD (Ayachit, 2002). Kashyapa also recommended weeding to be done a month after sowing, to be followed by a top dressing with manure. He reported leaf senescence after about three months, indicating that the crop was approaching harvest. Additional information given under pigeon pea earlier applies to both green gram and black gram. Watt (1889) recorded a few interesting practices and observations of farmers. Broadcasting was the common method of sowing these as intercrops in the Punjab. These were grown extensively as “subordinate” crops to millets or cotton. These crops do not impoverish the soil “in any case to the extent cereals do”. Green Gram was most frequently grown as a mixed crop with pearl millet in the Punjab. These crops were intercropped with finger millet in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Green gram need not be thrived as Black gram in heavier soils. Sheep manure and cow dung Manure was used for black gram in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.


Yields, markets, and storage of Green Gram

It is only in a 19th century document (Watt, 1889) that we find precise yield data on green gram crop. Yields of green gram were 500 kg ha-1 in the Central Provinces (Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra) and 550 kg ha-1 in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

The Ain-i-Akbari of 1590 AD (Blochmann, 1873) mentions black gram price to be 50% of that of wheat. The green gram dhal was costlier than chickpea and lentil dhals, indicating higher demand or less supply.

Storage practices were the same as those mentioned for chickpea during the Sultanic period, i.e., 1206–1555 AD (Naqvi, 1984). In the Risala-Dar-Falahat (c. 1450 AD), it is mentioned that these pulses were stored in large pots with their borders smeared with oil, and ash “applied” on all sides (Majumdar, 1984).