General Farmers convinced of added value of chickpea in Flanders
Until recently, the introduction of chickpeas in Flemish fields was not so easy. The necessary cultivation information was lacking and there was no knowledge about the most suitable varieties for our regions. The KIK-LOVE project has more than fulfilled the ambition to make a giant leap forward in this field.
ILVO and Inagro started this research project in 2021, together with two pioneer farmers. A learning network of interested farmers (both organic and conventional cultivation) was set up to exchange experiences during the cultivation process. Especially the importance of weed control and how best to address this appeared to be an important aspect of chickpea cultivation to be worked out. We also got a better idea on the behavior of this crop in our climate.
The research institutions mainly had a supporting role in facilitating farmer interactions. They also set up field trials comparing different varieties and evaluated diverse inoculum products. For now, the variety 'Flamenco' offers the most perspective for cultivation in Flanders because it is more resistant to wet soils and lower temperatures.
Karel Dewaele of Dewaele bio participated in this project and is very enthusiastic about it:
Chickpea cultivation is not only limited to Mediterranean regions, but also has potential in Flanders, especially in the context of climate change.
Under the influence of the Flemish Protein Strategy, the Flemish Government is encouraging farmers to look for ways to include protein crops in their crop rotation. This certainly includes a focus on new protein crops. In time, we can therefore expect chickpeas to be successfully grown on a large scale in Flanders, both in conventional and organic agriculture. This is certainly partly due to all the efforts made by the partners within KIK-LOVE, as a result of which the cultivation knowledge of farmers has greatly increased.
To further focus on marketing opportunities and processing of locally grown chickpea, the KIKET project started in 2022. Within KIK-LOVE, food company "La vie est belle" already started working with the chickpeas from the project. The growers learned that the quality of the material is very important for further processing. Cooperation of the entire chain is a good thing for all parties.
Of course, many questions also remained unanswered. Further research is certainly needed. Following the application for a new project, we are looking for new farmers who want to start cultivating this crop. The objective is to focus on cultivation advice in addition to research. The already existing grower network can thus be expanded with even more Flemish farmers. Interested? Then be sure to contact us.
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