PROGRESS IN FP6: Common Bean for Markets and Nutrition – 2020

With a view to increasing livelihood opportunities through marketing of production and creation of new bean varieties that enjoy market ready potential and meet consumer and food industry demands, empowerment strategies to address gender gaps included training of women and youth (148 male, 372 female) in entrepreneurship, business skills and value addition to generate bean-based products like bean flour and pre-cooked beans. Women, youth and men (301 male, 190 female) opinion leaders were integrated as change agents in the development and delivery of beans, dry bean products and nutrition information in the community (CAC Report). A major project to apply Genomic Selection for reducing cooking time has been launched with the initial preparation of phenotyping for crosses (ACIAR Report).

To ensure more efficient use of inputs, researchers quantified the potential for enhanced root penetration from P. coccineus; a novel phenotyping tool is being applied to estimate the size of root systems, based on capacitance and an electrical field  (Root Capitance Potential) and a multiparent advanced generation intercross (MAGIC) population of common bean was generated from eight Mesoamerican breeding lines representing the phenotypic and genotypic diversity of the CIAT Mesoamerican breeding program.

To reduced yield losses, including those caused by climate change, Mesoamerican genes introgressed into the Andeans germplasm lines for disease and heat resistance. Genes from Mesoamerican lines have improved heat tolerance in heat tolerant Andeans (HTA) lines, expressed in three sites.  Researchers have also characterized limits on photosynthate transport under heat. Two critical sensitive points in seed development were pinpointed, enabling a focus on them in the breeding program. These results clear the way to focus future work on heat tolerance in key developmental stages. Improved markers for Bean Golden Yellow Mosaic Virus (BGYMV) resistance were availed in collaboration with USDA. Three more markers for QTL were implemented to complement the bgm-1 major gene. This is being implemented through selection at Intertek and has made breeding for virus resistance much more efficient (report to BBSRC).

The outcome of enhanced genetic gain on station and on farm with bean varieties that display greater yield potential was fulfilled by the establishment of nurseries of 200 lines with at least five partners for multi-site evaluation. More than 300 lines were distributed to partners in LAC and the data are being collected for analysis (Report to KoLFACI). A separate publication demonstrates further evidence towards this outcome (Genomic prediction of agronomic traits in common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) under environmental stress).

Mainstreaming gender awareness and contributions along the bean value chain continues through a series of activities. PABRA partners implemented bean production activities in Eastern Uganda in collaboration with the Eastern Agricultural Development Company (EADC), a women-led social enterprise, due to the low participation and involvement of women in the EADC platforms. The starting point was to train women as model farmers to promote climate-smart technologies, including NAROBEAN-1, a climate-resilient HIB variety. Between April and September 2020, 6,160 (3,265 women) model farmers were integrated as change agents in their communities. The cumulative number of trained change agents was 19,213 (42.4%; 8,143 women) model farmers across PABRA members.

In Tanzania and Uganda, the commercialization of common bean has resulted in increased interest by men in bean crop. Subsequently, women partially lose the control of the product and the corresponding income as some men take control of the benefits. To address the unfairness in cash handling and control over income incurred from sales, PABRA in partnership with MasterCard Company introduced and deployed the MasterCard Farmer Network (MFN) model in the two counties (Farmer digital platform delivers financial inclusion: a case of KADERES in partnership with Tanzanian farmers and banks – ( The MFN tool digitizes marketplaces, payments, workflows and farmer financial histories within the agriculture sector. In both countries, women, through the multiple financial transaction histories from different harvest seasons recorded with aggregators, have accessed credit or loans from aggregators and banks associated with the aggregators. Women have also been trained as MFN agents, thereby creating an alternative source of income. To reduce any possible misunderstanding and conflicts, two gender focal persons in Uganda were trained to carry out awareness creation exercises and train men and women in the community about the negative impact of hindering women’s access to different agricultural technologies.

In Kenya, we started a seed revolving fund with the Ushirikiano women’s group in September 2019 with 340 kg of certified Nyota seed. From the 2020 to 2021 season, there has been an increase in the number of women members from 80 to 93. The volume of grain produced increased from 10.1 tons in 2019/2020 to 63.9 tons in 2020/2021. The volume of grain sold to a women-owned aggregator and processor, Smart Logistics, increased from 5 tons in 2019/2020 to 32 tons in 2020/2021. While the farmers were getting a premium price of Kenya Shillings (KES) 67 per kg in 2019, it increased to KES 70 78 (US$ 0.78 70) per in 2020. The increase of KES16 (USD 0.16) compared to what they got through grain brokers and local traders.

In Burundi, a survey in 2019/2020 showed that a majority of women (65%) reported access to improved varieties supported by new technical knowledge, skills and abilities in integrated crop management allowed them to make changes in bean production, while another 21.5% indicated that they were able to increase the use of seed quality by adopting high-yielding bean varieties. Most importantly, 8.5% of women reported that they felt empowered by their participation in the program. Impact assessment results also indicated that men and women who entirely planted improved bean varieties recorded a 40% increase in bean yields. Partial adopters also improved their yields by 27%. The improvements in bean yields resulted in 61% higher incomes for men and women, translating into a 15.8% increase in bean profitability.

Three gender-specific labor-saving technologies including the use of herbicides for weed control, planters and multi-crop threshers were validated.

Nine gender-responsive delivery systems for seed of dry bean varieties and GAPs technologies were promoted. They included the Lead Farmer Approach, Farmer Support Center (FSC) using a bundled approach, demonstrations, field days, agricultural shows/exhibitions, ICT using WhatsApp, MFN and Digital Agro Climate Advisory (DACA; see Putting digital agro-climatic services in the hands of bean value chain actors – (, private sector-led demos, small packs and seed delivery by motorbike. In Uganda, we have been working closely with two women bean processors, Nutreal Ltd and EADCL, to promote their bean porridge and precooked bean products.

The Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, in collaboration with Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI), Maruku has been building the capacity of young farmers in seed production, mechanization and market linkages. Pastory Tarasisi, a recipient of the training, successfully addressed issues of seed availability and accessibility in Missenyi District in Tanzania by reaching 1,250 farming households in his ward with quality seeds, working with about four other young men. He also bought a multi-crop thresher from a young entrepreneur running Imara Tech Ltd. In just six months, he could serve 50 farming households from 8 villages, earning Tsh. 1.6 million (approximately US$ 690)- see the link – Youth agri-entrepreneur transforming his community through job creation in Tanzania – case of Pastory Tarasisi – (

Florence Malemba, an extension officer working with the Ministry of agriculture is our focal point for bean growers. In 2020, we provided her with certified Nyota seed for an acre with the idea to showcase to other youth interested in agriculture that it was possible to make money and improved nutrition and food security from farming. Ms Grace Wambui, who runs a spare parts shop and other businesses, stumbled upon Florence’s farm and obtained the information on growing Nyota. Grace sold 6 bags (540 kg) of beans for US$ 70 each (Ksh. 7000) to Smart Logistics Ltd, pocketing US$ 420 (Ksh. 42,000). The remaining 180 kg was reserved for personal use and some for seed for the next season. She plans to lease more land for the next planting season and increase the acreage under beans from one to two acres in the upcoming short rains in September. She aims to produce 10-12 bags per acre after a short training on bean crop management from the extension officer.

PABRA supports capacity building to create ‘Change agents’ in several countries using the bean corridor approach (PABRA20_Bean_Corridors_BRIEF.pdf ( In the Red Mottled Corridor of the Democratic Republic of Congo, 21 youth from NGOs were trained on nutrition interventions, record keeping, costing and pricing strategies, seed systems, and agribusiness. During nutrition sessions, preparation of bean porridge and bean flour by Totahara from Burundi, was demonstrated.

In the EAREM Corridor of Tanzania, more than 300 youth (125 female) were informed about the business potential of High-Iron Bean (HIB) seeds and value added products such as bean flour, biscuits, bread, cake that were exhibited by PABRA during the Youth Congress on Opportunities of Agricultural Sector in Northern Tanzania, hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture on 4–5 April 2020, in Arusha, Tanzania. After learning about the benefits of HIB, 21 youth (8 females) participants who expressed interest in starting a bean businesses were linked to seed and grain producers for further engagement. PABRA has also worked with youth in Tanzania on expanding their business using fresh bean grains to make tasty meals.

In Cameroon, Institut de Recherche Agricole pour le Développement (IRAD) took part in the scientific week of excellence in Buea, South West region, where over 100 participants (48 women) attended. During the event, posters and brochures on HIB varieties were disseminated, and bean-enriched biscuits produced by the nutrition lab team were distributed for tasting. Bean seeds of assorted varieties from Foumbot were also exhibited and distributed. In the remaining project period, the emphasis will be on the participation of youth and women.

In Eswatini, bean jam was promoted by Smiling Through Investment, a youth enterprise (see World Pulses Day 2021: Counting on beans for healthier diets and planet – ( Across PABRA, a virtual training for young breeders and breeding technicians has been ongoing for the past six months, touching on various aspects of breeding and experience sharing between senior (experienced) and junior breeders.

In 2020, FP6 enhanced the skills of 1,260 people (547 women, 43.4%) where the women in school feeding programs and private companies in Ghana were trained in bean seed production. Private millers in DRC were trained in bean-based flour production. Virtual trainings on designing and developing bean seed road maps were held in multiple countries in addition to virtual training for young breeders and research technicians on various aspects of breeding and experience sharing between senior and young breeders. TV programs on nutrition and policy support and radio talks on bean production in Kenya were popular.

Information and knowledge was made available to farmers, private lead firms, Small & Medium Enterprise (SMEs), research and extension, and NGOs through virtual (Capitalizing on digital tools to sustain bean production, trade and consumption amidst COVID-19 – ( and on location trainings, printed promotional materials and social and mass media e.g. TV and radio. A total of 3,519,744 people benefited, surpassing the annual target of 3 million by 17.3%. The largest of these were through TV in Burundi, and from virtual and online trainings. Of these, 51.7% were women. The most popular skills and knowledge were on Integrated crop management (ICM), specifically post-harvest technologies and nutrition, notably HIB beans and related products.

The Flagship 6 continues work to address drought tolerance, as evidenced in the following dataset and journal articles:

Climate change remains at the core of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) project, and work continues on profiling and deploying promising and acceptable varieties and ICM technologies for bean production that address production challenges, mainly improving production and productivity and adapting to climate change see the links:

  1. High-yielding Climate-resilient beans improve food security and kick-start business in Zimbabwe (
  2. How beans are beating hunger in Burundi (

With climate variability characterized by excessive rainfall becoming more common and negatively impacting production, the need for climate information and advisories has grown. PABRA developed a Digital Agro Climate Advisory (DACA) to help bean farmers manage risks associated with climate shocks.

2021 2020 2019
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