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Cycle 8 (2019 Deadline)

Increased availability of fast cooking yellow dry beans rich in bioavailable iron to Zambia consumers and farmers

PI: Kelvin Kamfwa (, University of Zambia
U.S. Partner: Karen Cichy, USDA/ Agricultural Research Service
Project Dates: December 2019 - July 2022

Project Overview:
Common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) is a major source of protein and iron. Iron deficiency is widespread in Zambia, especially among children and pregnant women, and consumption of iron-rich beans could mitigate iron deficiency. Faster cooking beans could mitigate the negative climate change effects on the environment by reducing the consumption of charcoal or firewood and reduce health impacts from prolonged breathing of emissions from long indoor cooking processes. Unfortunately, however, adoption of new bean varieties in Zambia remain low. Participatory Variety Selection (PVS), defined as the engagement of farmers in the selection of crop varieties, is one possible way of enhancing adoption of new varieties. Yellow beans are grown and consumed in Zambia, but for several reasons they are not as widely consumed as the purple “kabulangeti” beans. First, people are generally unaware of the nutritional superiority of yellow beans over purple beans or the fact that yellow beans cook faster than purple beans. Second, farmers tens to lack access to improved and higher yielding yellow bean varieties. In their prior research, the PI and his team have shown a correlation between cooking time and iron bioavailability such that fast cooking beans have higher. With consumers in Zambia valuing foods with a shorter cooking time, the researchers believe they have identified a good opportunity to promote the choice of yellow beans and mitigate iron deficiency in Zambia.

8-174 Plant Breeding Team
The project team focusing on plant breeding (photo courtesy of Kamfwa).
The two main goals of the project are (1) to improve the diets of Zambians through increased availability of fast cooking yellow beans rich in bioavailable iron and (2) to improve the profitability of beans for Zambian farmers by deploying new high-yielding varieties with traits that appeal to farmers and consumers. As part of their work, the researchers will provide high-yielding, fast-cooking, and high iron bioavailable yellow dry bean breeding lines to farmers in Zambia, using seed stock to be provided by the University of Zambia Bean Breeding Program and the breeding program of U.S. partner Dr. Karen Cichy. The team will then work with the farmers through the PVS process to help them select appropriate seed stocks for their local conditions. On-farm field trials will be carried out, after which the researchers will evaluate the adoption potential of the new yellow dry bean breeding lines. In parallel, the PEER team will also carry out on-farm cooking trials to test the cooking times of the various types of beans in real-life conditions (using charcoal and firewood for cooking instead of electric cookers). Farmers will be asked to rank the beans based on cooking time and other traits of as gravy quality, aroma, and flavor. Finally, to help create awareness of the benefits and opportunities associated with yellow beans, the PEER team will organize on-farm field days, where farmers, consumers, and representatives of institutions where bean consumption is especially high, such as hospitals, boarding schools, and prisons, will be invited to sample the beans. Government and traditional leaders will also be invited, as they will play important roles in promoting production and consumption of yellow beans.

This project is well aligned with previous and current USAID efforts in Zambia aimed at supporting promoting prudent management of natural resources and more efficient agricultural practices, including promotion of more diversification from maize to legumes. Access to improved higher-yielding yellow bean varieties could result in increased household food security and incomes, especially in the rural bean-growing areas of Zambia, where poverty levels are high. Availability of higher yielding common bean varieties could encourage more farmers to diversify into common bean production.

Summary of Recent Activities

In this reporting period, there were two major activities that were conducted: (i) agronomic evaluation of farmer-selected yellow bean elite lines in off-season trials, and (ii) evaluation of selected lines for cooking time in an on-farm cooking trial.

Two off-season irrigated trials were planted at the Golden Valley Agricultural Research Trust (GART) farm located in Chisamba and at Zambia Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI) farm located in Kabwe. The trial at GART was planted on 27th July 2021 while the one at ZARI was on the 29th July 2021. The purpose of the two off-season were: (i) evaluate the agronomic performance and stability of the four yellow bean elite lines (YBC120, YBC129, YBC264 and Y1609-1) that were selected by farmers through Farmer Participatory Variety Selection (FPVS) conducted in 2020 and 2021 growing seasons, and (ii) multiply seed of the four selected elite lines. The crop in the two trials is currently growing and will be harvested in the third week of November 2021. The expected output from these two trials will be the agronomic data including seed yield, disease resistance and maturity, which will enhance decision making on which of the four selected elite lines can be considered for release as a variety. Additionally, the trials are expected to provide data on the stability of the lines in different environments, which is important information for deciding which of the four selected lines, could be considered for release in multiple environments. Furthermore, the trials are expected to help multiply the seed that can be used to conduct Advanced Yield Trials (AYT) and for some of the seed to be submitted to the Seed Control and Certification Institute (SCCI) of Zambia for routine testing required to make a variety release decision.

The on-farm cooking trial was conducted on 24th August 2021 at a farm in Mpika, district of Muchinga province. The objective of the on-farm cooking trial was to identify the fastest cooking genotype under on-farm conditions among the four genotypes that farmers selected through FPVS. Additionally, on-farm cooking trial was expected to provide information on culinary traits as famers were requested to test the beans after cooking. A total of 20 farmers (ten female and 10 male) participated in the on-farm cooking trial. These famers used a hotplate to cook a total of nine genotypes (four selected elite lines and five checks). The time it took for the beans to be fully cooked was recorded. After cooking, the farmers tested the four genotypes and the checks. The cooking time for the nine genotypes ranged from 2.10 hours for the selected elite line YBC129 to 3.10 hours (YBC120) as shown in the attached table. Interestingly, YBC129 the fastest cooking genotype was the highest yielding line (2,050 kg ha-1) among the four genotypes that farmers selected from the on-farm field trial in 2021. YBC129 cooked faster than the landrace Lusaka, which was used as a check and is popular with consumers in Zambia because of its faster cooking time than other market classes currently on the Zambian market. After the beans were cooked the farmers were asked to taste and rank the four genotypes based taste. The genotype YBC129 was ranked highest in taste among the four genotypes selected by farmers from the field trial. Because farmers selected YBC129 based on its desirable agronomic attributes such as seed yield, seed size and shape, its cooking time and its taste, it is the elite line that the project will recommend for release as an improved yellow bean variety in Zambia to replace landrace Lusaka on the Zambian market.

The following activities have been planned for the quarter October-December:

• Harvesting of the two off-season trials in GART, Chisamba and ZARI, Kabwe.
• Prepare seed for planting three field trials for further agronomic evaluation and seed multiplication of the selected, high yielding and fast cooking yellow bean genotype YBC129.
• Analyze the agronomic data from the field trial to determine the agronomic performance and stability of the four selected lines.
• Analyze the nutritional profiling data including zinc and iron content, and their bioavailability for the four selected lines that have been sent to Dr. Glahn’s lab at Cornel University in the US.
• Secure a visa for the student who is enrolled at University of Zambia but will visit Dr. Cichy lab (US government partner) to conduct cooking time experiments and acquire skills in conducting lab-based cooking time evaluation of beans using a Matson cooker.
• Hold planning meeting with farmers who will be selected to participate in seed multiplication for the four selected genotypes including YBC129.

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