UNL working to improve African Bean Production
The University of Nebraska recently received two of five major grants for dry bean research through the US Department of Agriculture. The $1.3 million dollar research grants will support research in Africa for the production of the common bean, a main staple produced throughout east and southern Africa.
UNL Dry Bean Breeding Specialist Dr. Carlos Urrea says project is already in progress. UNL and International Center for Tropical Agriculture based in Columbia have sent 350 bean breeding lines to Africa to be tested in two locations in Zambia and Mozambique. Researchers will be evaluating the crop for rootrot pathogens. Once the pathogens are identified, Dr. Urrea says researchers can move forward in identifying sources of resistance.
Through the grant, two masters level Africa students will also work in Nebraska to learn more about plant pathology and bean breeding in using molecular plant breeding techniques. Urrea will also assist farmers with basic production techniques.
The process will start with identifying varieties that are resistant to drought and heat stress, and have multiple disease resistance. In collaborating with Columbia, Urrea says this research help Nebraska bean growers.
Dr. Urrea's research will focus on light red kidney and cranberry beans, but he also sees Africa has potential in growing pinto, small reds and small blacks. In a later phase of the project, Dr. Urrea would like to work on the nutritional value of the crop.
Urrea says the overall goal is to improve bean production to decrease malnutrition in Africa.
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