There is almost no food more Israeli than felafel, and soon the fried balls of
chickpea paste may get an upgrade, thanks to developments from Hebrew
Yissum, the university’s research and development company,
has introduced new chickpea varieties that retain high nutritional values while
showing improved synchronization between flowering and the rainy season, thereby
The new varieties were developed by Prof. Shahal Abbo
at the Robert H. Smith Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics in Agriculture
at the university’s Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment.
chickpea ranks as second most common in the world’s legumes market.
majority of the crop is cultivated in India, where it is an important staple
diet component that supplies starch and protein to the predominantly vegetarian
Indian population. The chickpea – which is also very popular among vegetarians
in Western countries – contains lutein, an important antioxidant whose intake is
associated with lower risk of age-related macular degeneration, the most common
cause of blindness in the elderly.
Abbo developed the new chickpea
varieties using non-GMO [genetically modified organism] breeding
They are characterized by larger seeds, high lutein content
and moderate tolerance to fungal infection. Chickpea is not only a staple diet
component in large areas of the globe, but also an important health food in
Western countries and its consumption is rising steadily.
varieties offer the university a unique business opportunity and may promote
marketing in industrialized nations, said Yissum CEO Yaacov
“Yissum is now looking for partners for further development and
commercialization of this invention,” concluded Michlin.
production has increased over the past 30 years from 6.6 million metric tons to
over 10 million metric tons, and although most of the crop is grown in India for
domestic use, it is also an important crop, both domestic and for export, in
several countries, including the United States and Australia.