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Chickpeas Overview

Chickpeas are a pulse crop, which is a legume plant that has dry, edible seeds in pods. Pulses come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours. Chickpeas are also known as ‘garbanzo beans’.

Pulses are legume plants that have dry, edible seeds that are grown in pods.

The top countries for growing chickpeas are India, Canada, Pakistan, Turkey, Ethiopia, and Mexico. Saskatchewan grows over 75% of the chickpeas grown in Canada.

Canada is one of the top chickpea growers.

There are two types of chickpeas grown in Saskatchewan: Kabuli and Desi. Kabuli seeds are large, round, and cream to white in colour. They are typically sold whole, and they make up about 15% of the world’s chickpea production. Desi seed are a bit smaller than Kabuli, with the seed colour varying from green to purple, brown, or black. The Desi plants are shorter and more resistant to disease, frost, and insect damage than the Kabuli plant.

Lentils, chickpeas, peas, and beans are all pulse crops grown in Canada.

Industry Overview

In 2020, Saskatchewan farmers seeded 102,000 hectares (252,300 acres) of chickpeas. The average yield was 1.75 tonnes per hectare (26 bushels per acre).

Once harvested, chickpeas can be transported by semi-trucks to elevators to be stored, cleaned, and shipped. Chickpeas can also be sent to processing facilities where they are prepared to be used in food for humans. Chickpeas are usually left whole, but they can be dried, roasted, or flavoured and then packaged, canned, or frozen.

An illustrated green chickpeas crop.

Once chickpeas are harvested they are processed for humans to enjoy!

Saskatchewan grows approximately 89% of Canada’s chickpeas. Canada exports chickpeas on ships. The top countries importing chickpeas are Pakistan, the United States, India, United Arab Emirates, and Portugal. Chickpeas are taken from elevators on trains and put onto ships to transport to these international countries that buy Canadian grain. In 2020, approximately 105,000 tonnes (115,000 tons) of chickpeas were exported around the world!

A simple, illustrated map of the world is shown with a boat transporting goods between countries.

Canada trades with countries around the world to import and export products such as chickpeas.

History of Chickpeas

Chickpeas originated in the Middle East, which is a region of the world that still relies on this legume this is high in protein.

Chickpeas were first grown about 7,000 years ago in Egypt, Greece, and Rome. During the 16th century, Spanish and Portuguese explorers brought chickpeas to other regions of the world including parts of Mexico, the United States of America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and China.

Chickpeas are popular around the world because they are an incredibly versatile ingredient to cook with. You can eat them canned, dried or roasted, hot or cold, and they are inexpensive.

Explorers brought chickpeas over to Canada.

Growing Chickpeas

Chickpeas is a cool season plant. Seedlings are able to handle small amounts of frost. The plant has a long taproot that allows the plant to use water at a deeper depth than other pulse crops. Most chickpeas grown in Saskatchewan are grown in the brown and dark brown soil zones.

This graph shows the major soil zones across the Prairies.

Growing chickpeas is good for soil that has lost a lot of its nutrients because chickpeas are able to take nitrogen from the air and convert it to plant food. Since chickpeas can do this, farmers do not need to add nitrogen fertilizer.

The chickpea is a cool season plant. Seedlings are able to handle small amounts of frost.

The chickpea plant will continue to flower until it goes through stress such as not having enough nutrients, a frost, or not having enough moisture. Throughout the summer, the crop can be sprayed if needed for weeds, insects, and diseases.

A train is stopped in a small town next to a train station and two elevators.

This chickpeas crop is ready for harvest.

The plant is ready for harvest when most of the plants are yellow, even though the tops may still be green. The plant can then be sprayed or swathed to ripen, and then combined.

Chickpeas Nutrition

Chickpeas are high in protein and fibre, but low in fat. The amount of protein they have makes them a great alternative to eating meat.

Chickpeas are a healthy choice for our bodies.

Chickpeas Products

Chickpeas are used for a variety of delicious dishes.