Grain Legumes is global partnership of CGIAR Centers CIAT, ICARDA, IITA and ICRISAT – with ICRISAT designated as the Lead Center.
Partnerships and networking are crucial to Grain Legumes, as the Program focuses on facilitating Research for Development (R4D) activities among a wide array of partners. Grain Legumes will partner with the following players:
- National agricultural research systems (NARS) in target countries in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA), West and Central Africa (WCA), South and South East Asia (SSEA), Central and West Asia, North Africa (CWANA) and Latin America and Caribbean (LAC),
- Regional R4D networks,
- Advanced research institutes (ARI) in both developed and developing countries,
- Private sector R&D institutions and companies and
- Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and farmers’ organizations.
CIAT: The International Center for Tropical Agriculture
CIAT, headquartered in Cali, Colombia holds a mandate within the CGIAR for research on Phaseolus bean. The Phaseolus genus is of neotropical origin and CIAT is located in the center of diversity of the crop. Five cultivated species of Phaseolus are conserved in CIAT’s Genetic Resources Unit (almost 40,000 accessions), although most research is directed towards Phaseolus vulgaris, the common bean.
CIAT’s historical strength lies in genetic improvement (bean breeding). More than 300 varieties derived from CIAT breeding lines have been released by countries in Latin America, and more than 170 in Africa. On both continents disease-resistant varieties have been the primary product. In Latin America varieties with resistance to Gemini viruses have been the hallmarks, while in Africa root rot resistant varieties have sustained bean production in western Kenya and neighboring countries. The most dramatic impact has been the introduction of improved climbing bean varieties in central and eastern Africa, first in Rwanda where they tripled yields, and subsequently spreading to Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Thirty years ago Rwanda was a net importer of beans; today that country exports beans to its neighbors.
CIAT has long emphasized participatory research and farmer involvement in the selection of new varieties. CIAT also pioneered the establishment of functional regional research networks, the strongest of which is the Pan-African Bean Research Alliance (PABRA).
ICARDA: International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas
ICARDA conducts genetic improvement research on kabuli chickpea, lentil, faba bean and grasspea in the temperate zone of the developing world, and is exploring expansion into field pea (Pisum sativum). ICARDA holds large genetic resource collections of all these crops and carries out collection, conservation and utilization studies to enhance their utility for crop improvement. A few major accomplishments to date include the development of winter planted chickpea technology for West Asia and North Africa that more than doubles yields; improved short-duration lentil varieties that triggered an increase in production from 600,000 tons to 1.27 million tons in the last 30 years in South Asia; new faba bean varieties that have contributed to poverty alleviation in Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt; and the release of low-neurotoxin grasspea variety in Ethiopia.
Drought, cold, heat and salinity tolerance are major crop stresses in the temperate zones that are being ameliorated though plant breeding, while soil-borne and foliar pathogens and parasitic weeds are leading biotic constraints receiving attention. This includes resistance breeding/screening and integrated pest management of leaf miner, aphids and Sitona weevils, and against important viruses of grain legumes along with seed health testing, diagnostic kits for viruses, and village-level seed systems support. Agronomic research addresses tillage effects (till vs. no-till, irrigation vs. rainfed) on disease resistance and yield.
Strengths that ICARDA contributes to Grain Legumes include a bio-pesticide laboratory; a large collection of bio-control agents; a strong seed technology section also focusing on seed delivery systems; screening facilities for Fusarium wilt, Ascochyta blight, cold tolerance and water supply variability; a well-organized plant virology laboratory providing training and support in virus identification and diagnosis; geospatial sciences capacity that improves the targeting of breeding efforts; food, feed and crop residue research including a small ruminant research unit (sheep and goats); a biotechnology laboratory; a large collection of Rhizobium (1400 accessions) for biological nitrogen fixation research; a legume food quality lab supporting studies of micronutrient content in grains (iron, zinc); and a strong international germplasm testing network.
ICRISAT: International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics
ICRISAT improves chickpea, groundnut and pigeonpea crops and systems in the tropical drylands of Africa and Asia. ICRISAT holds in trust for humanity one of the world’s largest collections of grain legume genetic resources, including 20,140 accessions of chickpea, 15,419 of groundnut, and 13,632 of pigeonpea.
ICRISAT studies this germplasm to support progress in crop improvement, including biotechnology, drought and heat physiology, pathology and entomology. Cropping systems research addresses soil, water and nutrient management, while markets, institutions and policy studies investigate ways to enhance market access and income for poor farmers. These themes are accompanied by capacity-building to strengthen partner institutions.
Impacts to date have been large. Fifty-four countries have released improved cultivars of groundnut (135), chickpea (116) and pigeonpea (65) using germplasm accessions and breeding materials supplied by ICRISAT, resulting in impacts estimated at over US$150 million annually in increased production. With their partners, ICRISAT biotechnologists have constructed reference genetic maps in chickpea, groundnut and pigeonpea, and have sequenced the full genomes of chickpea and pigeonpea.
ICRISAT catalysed the formation of the Cereals Legumes Asia Network (CLAN). In recent years ICRISAT pioneered an important public-private partnership known as the Hybrid Parents Research Consortium (HPRC) with private-sector seed companies. Another private-public partnership achievement is the Agri-business Innovation Platform (AIP) that fosters entrepreneurship to increase the availability of modern technology to poor dryland tropical farming communities. ICRISAT will contribute the expertise, partnerships and capacities gained in all the above areas to Grain Legumes.
IITA: International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, Nigeria
IITA improves cowpea and soybean for the sub-humid and semi-arid areas of sub-Saharan Africa. Research on the important but neglected bambara groundnut crop has recently been re-initiated. The IITA genebank holds the world’s largest and most diverse collection of cowpeas, with 15,122 accessions from 88 countries representing 70% of African cultivars and nearly half of the crop’s global diversity. The gene bank also holds 1,742 soybean and 1,815 bambara groundnut accessions.
To suit farmer uses of the crop, IITA develops multiple-purpose cowpea varieties that provide grains for human food, feed for livestock and improve soil fertility. Improved cowpea varieties derived from IITA germplasm have been released by 68 countries around the world.
IITA is developing enhanced rhizobial inoculants to increase biological nitrogen fixation, and integrated plant health management options. Varieties tolerant to the parasitic weeds Striga and Alectra have reduced production losses. A novel parasitoid to help control the flower thrips insect pest has been established in West Africa, and inexpensive delivery systems for natural enemies of the legume pod borer have been developed.
IITA utilized a value chain partnership approach to popularize soybean in Nigeria, resulting in major impact. Key value chain bottlenecks that were overcome include the development and dissemination of promiscuously-nodulating varieties (to increase biological nitrogen fixation), improved processing and utilization techniques, fostering the emergence of a soybean processing industry, and raising public awareness of home preparation methods for soybean. IITA will contribute the principles of the value-chain approach to Grain Legumes so that it can also be applied to other grain legume crops.
USAID Feed the Future Innovation Labs
Formerly known as Collaborative Research Support Programs (CRSPs) and funded by the Bureau of Food Security, USAID-Washington, these two Innovation Labs (Legumes Innovation Lab and Peanut and Mycotoxin Innovation Lab) contribute to economic growth as well as food and nutritional security by generating knowledge and technology that strengthens edible grain legume value chains. They also enhance the capacities and sustainability of agricultural research institutions that serve these sectors in developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. US university scientists collaborate in multi-disciplinary research and technology dissemination projects with national agricultural research systems, agricultural universities, non-governmental organizations, international agricultural research centers and private sector organizations in approximately 20 countries.
Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research
The Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), formerly known as the Ethiopian Agricultural Research Organization (EARO), is part of the Ethiopian Agricultural Research System (EARS), and is responsible for the federal agriculture research centers. It is headquartered at Addis Ababa and is run under the aegis of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. In addition to conducting research at its federal centers, EIAR provides coordination of agricultural research countrywide, and advises Government on agricultural research policy issues. Currently, EARS comprises 55 research centers and sites located across various agro-ecological zones.
EIAR’s priority grain legume crops include chickpea, lentil, pea, horse bean, mung bean and haricot bean.
Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation
The Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) serves Brazilian society through 38 Research Centers, 3 Service Centers and 13 Central Divisions distributed in different states of Brazil. It has 8,275 employees of which 2,113 are researchers. EMBRAPA coordinates the national agricultural research system, which includes most public and private entities involved in agricultural research in the country. The Corporation maintains international cooperation in order to benefit from knowledge of technical and scientific activities as well as to share knowledge and technology with other countries.
EMBRAPA’s current major research areas include: (i) Genetic improvement of soybean, wheat and sunflower cultivars; (ii) Soybean pest control techniques; (iii) Techniques in reduction of soybean harvest loss; (iv) Soil–plant management for soybean production stability; and (v) Socio-economic studies of soybean production. Soybean, bean and groundnut are EMBRAPA’s grain legume priority crops. The outcomes of the Grain Legumes Program would certainly add strength to EMBRAPA’s program and vice versa.
Generation Challenge Programme
The Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) was created by the CGIAR in 2003 as a 10-year program to use genetic diversity and advanced plant science to add value to breeding for drought-prone and harsh environments. This is achieved through a network of more than 200 partners drawn from CGIAR Centers, academia, regional and national research programs and capacity enhancement to assist developing world researchers to tap into a broader and richer pool of plant genetic diversity.
GCP’s network advances the frontiers of knowledge and develops practical tools such as molecular markers for desirable genes for efficient field selection in plant breeding. In the context of Grain Legumes, GCP’s efforts to develop an Integrated Breeding Platform and associated innovative breeding projects on various crops will be of tremendous value. This platform will comprise a one-stop-shop providing access to genetic stocks, pre-breeding materials, high throughput services for marker and trait evaluation, informatics tools, support services, capacity development and community support for conducting genomics research and integrated breeding projects.
General Directorate of Agricultural Research, Turkey
Agricultural Research in Turkey is considered essentially a public duty which is mainly covered by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA). Other agencies that also take part in agricultural development are the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Universities and TUBITAK (Turkish Scientific and Technological Council).
The General Directorate of Agricultural Research (GDAR) is the apex body to administer agricultural research in the Republic of Turkey, and is part of MARA. Under the administration of GDAR there are various institutions in operation throughout the country. These include 7 Central, 9 Regional, 32 subject-specific institutes (14 dedicated to Horticulture and Field Crops, 3 for Plant Health, 4 concerning Animal Husbandry, 3 for Aquaculture and 8 regarding Animal Health) and 12 Soil and Water Research Institutes. Human Resources at GDAR include 1,608 staff of which men are 1102 (69%) and women are 506 (31%).
Indian Council of Agricultural Research
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is an autonomous organization under the Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India. ICAR is headquartered in New Delhi. With 97 ICAR institutes and 47 agricultural universities across the country, ICAR is one of the largest national agricultural systems in the world. As the apex body for coordinating, guiding and managing research and education in agriculture in the country, ICAR provides advice that informs government policies and programs on grain legume food security issues.
More than 250 scientists work on legumes in ICAR programs. ICAR institutes that work on grain legumes include the Indian Institute for Pulses Research (IIPR, Kanpur), the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI, New Delhi), the Central Research Institute of Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA; Hyderabad), the Directorate of Groundnut Research (Junagadh), and the Directorate of Soybean Research (Indore). Under the All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) 58 research institutes (including state agricultural universities) work on chickpea, and 22 research institutes each work on pigeonpea and groundnut. Collectively these institutions address a wide range of grain legumes including chickpea (Cicer arietinum), pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan), mung bean (Vigna radiata), urdbean (black gram; Vigna mungo), lentil (Lens culinaris), lathyrus (Lathyrus sativus), common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), pea (Pisum sativum), groundnut (Arachis hypogaea) and soybean (Glycine max). They address plant breeding, biotechnology, genetic resources (collection, evaluation and conservation), cropping systems research, integrated pest and disease management, on-farm research and informatics and postharvest technology.
The program of work also depends on a network of formal and informal partnerships that are often specific to individuals, institutions or geographies. We will continue to develop both formal and structured links with other CGIAR Research Programs, CRPs (notably Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM); Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS); Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH); Dryland Cereals; and Dryland Systems.