Categories: Economic News

Dry Bean Research returns good global economic value

( – An economic study that analyzed 40 years of data from international agricultural research efforts led by American universities showed that an initial investment of $1.24 billion has returned more than $10 billion, or more than eight dollars for every dollar invested, worldwide. . The study was funded by the United States Agency for International Development.

The economic study, “Economists study impact of international agricultural research at US universities,” was conducted by economic researchers at Kansas State University and was reported by Benjamin Kohl.

Among the research programs cited in the study is the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Legume Systems Research, a research and capacity-building program run by Michigan State University that focuses on grain legumes in West Africa and southern

One of the Legume Innovation Lab projects is led by North Dakota State University’s Department of Plant Sciences, dry bean breeder Juan Osorno and genomicist Phil McClean.

Between 2012 and 2018, Osorno and McClean led research efforts in Guatemala for the genetic improvement of climbing beans in the western highlands of Guatemala. His current research program is the genetic improvement of dry beans for bruchid resistance for southern Africa.

Mozambique and Zambia provide about 30% of the total production of common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) in Africa. However, bean weevil (bruchid) infestations that cause a loss in quality and quantity of more than 48% of stored beans are a key cause of some of the highest levels of malnutrition and poverty in the world. Collaborative efforts between bean breeders and geneticists Osorno and McClean, Carlos Urrea (University of Nebraska) and Kelvin Kamfwa (University of Zambia) aim to develop germplasm resistant to bruchids, with the goal of developing new varieties resistant to brucids with good agronomic performance and improved storage and cooking properties.

Already considered a “game changer” in the bean value chain in southern Africa, the development of bruchid-resistant varieties will improve food security in the region by providing a new product that can be safely stored for periods of longer times without losing quality. In addition, the project will improve the technical knowledge of small bean farmers, bean scientists and other stakeholders in the region by training the next generation of scientists and plant breeders for the region.

Although COVID-19 travel restrictions did not allow Osorno to visit in person, interaction with collaborators in Zambia and Mozambique via Zoom and other virtual tools allowed the project to move forward. Osorno eventually traveled to Mozambique and Zambia, South Africa, to review work that began in January 2020. The visit included visits to research plots, storage facilities, greenhouse materials and laboratories screening of smears. “I was impressed to see that despite the initial challenges that came with COVID-19, the research never stopped,” Osorno said.

Osorno is proud that the research has added North Dakota to the global initiative to improve and increase pulse production in developing countries as well as established production areas around the world. The plan is to release the first bruchid-resistant variety with local adaptation and commercially acceptable seed type in the region sometime next year.

The research was made possible by support provided by the US Agency for International Development under the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Legume Systems Research.


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