Faba bean (Vicia faba L.), also called as fava bean, broad bean, field bean, horse bean and bell bean, is an erect leafy winter or summer annual. It expanded around the world during Neolithic period – from Antalya (Turkey) towards Europe; from Egypt across North Africa and eastwards to Afghanistan and onwards to China, India and in more recent times to Latin America and North America.
Cultivated faba bean is used as human food in developing countries, and as animal feed (mainly for pigs, horses, poultry and pigeons) in developed countries and in North Africa. In addition to boiled grains, it is consumed as vegetable green seeds/pods, dried or canned. It is a staple breakfast food in the Middle East, Mediterranean region, China and Ethiopia.
Faba bean has a protein content of 24-30 percent. Although the global average grain yield of faba bean has almost doubled during the past 50 years, the total area sown to the crop has declined by 56% over the same period due to the cheap availability of fertilizers (devaluing some of the short-term economic benefits of biological nitrogen fixation) and competition with policy-favored cereal and high-value urban cash crops.
The most important diseases of faba bean are chocolate spot (Botrytis fabae and B. cinerea), rust (Uromyces viciae fabae), Ascochyta blight (Ascochyta fabae), black root rot (Thielaviopsis basicola), stem rots (Sclerotina trifoliorum, S. sclerotiorum), root rots/damping-off (Rhizoctonia spp.), pre-emergence damping-off (Pythium spp.), bean yellow mosaic virus, bean true mosaic virus, bean leaf roll virus and bean yellow necrotic virus. Among the insect pests, bruchids and aphids are important.
Faba bean is grown on 2.5 million ha of land globally, with Central and East Asia contributing 36% and Sub-Saharan Africa about 21% of the total area.