• First Study Shows Eating High-Iron Beans Improves Memory and Attention Span in Female University Students in Rwanda

    by Georgina Smith | Nov 22, 2017 Eating beans bred to contain higher iron can boost memory and attention span in female university students in Rwanda, the study shows. Policy…

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  • Village of Nutrition

    The “Village of Nutrition” is an initiative in Madagascar by PABRA and local partners to fight malnutrition. The initiative has two objectives: first, to improve the nutritional status of vulnerable groups, with a focus on pregnant women and nursing mothers; children under five years of age; and school children or unschooled children between six and 14 years of age. Second, to improve household food security in Masindray Village.  Masindray village, located 19 kilometers from the capital Antananarivo, was selected by partners as a vulnerable site, where 95 percent of the community are farmers and chronic malnutrition affects half of the population.   To tackle malnutrition, activities included culinary demonstrations and the planting vegetable gardens in community centers and schools. A focus on school nutrition included bean based porridge in school feeding programs, among other activities. Between January and June 2016, the prevalence underweight in children fell by five percent. From this experience, it is clear that in low income countries, the health and agricultural sectors must join forces and promote initiatives together to fight malnutrition.

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  • Building partnerships to fight malnutrition

    In spite of its fragile state, Burundi saw much progress in nutrition in 2016. A strong partnership between the Ministry of Health (PRONIANUT) and the Ministry of Agriculture (ISABU) has led to 11 farmer cooperatives receiving training on how to produce nutritious bean flour for the market and household consumption. A community crèche has been set up for mothers, accepting 351 children two to five years old. Two community members take turns caring for the children while the other mothers are out farming. A bean-based porridge is prepared for the children at the crèche.  Christella Ndayishimiye started her business TOTOHARA in 2009 with just a few bags of bean flour for friends. Today, she now sells four metric tons of flour a month and is struggling to keep up with demand. Her new product add value to beans, fetching better prices for her and the farmers who supply her business, while also nurturing consumers.  “I saw that older and younger people needed more nutritious food. But the flour sold at the market was not of high quality or  nutritious, so I started making it for my family, neighbors and friends. It was really popular and soon they convinced me to start making it for others as well.” Christella got the idea for making the flour from a training session she attended, facilitated through PABRA. Glancing over at the neat rows of bean flour she has on the shelves of her shop, she reflects on her progress. “Now I have bought a bicycle to transport the bean flour bags to small markets to supply different customers in Bujumbura. My family has relied on the income from this factory – now I can send my children to school and I have also adopted one child. My hope for TOTOHARA is to expand to other countries, so we can even export,”  - she said. What's next Development projects providing free composite flour for pregnant women are distorting the market and research is needed to train others about the benefits of partnering with private sector entrepreneurs like Christella Ndayishimiye. Further dialogue is needed among the agriculture and nutrition sectors to evaluate the sustainability of investments, to ensure a sustainable, food secure, future. Richard Hatungimana works with PABRA through the Institut des Siences Agronomique du Burundi (ISABU), to multiply high quality beans for more farmers in Burundi. Since he started growing high-iron climbing beans in 2012 on just one hectare of land, he has bought another seven hectares. He used the income from the extra yield to reinvest around US$17,000 back into his farm in thelast five years. He now also has livestock and grows other crops on his farm.

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  • Lessons from field day in Tanzania

    By Jean Claude Rubyogo More than 300 farmers, companies, extension agents and media attended a field day at the Agriculture Seed Agency (ASA) seed farm at Ngaramtoni in Arusha, Tanzania,…

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  • Banking on a Sustainable Future: From one diverse continent to another

    Common beans evolved in often extreme environments. They offer important opportunities for breeders across Africa to breed beans in varied conditions – from humid highland environments, to near-arid environments with high temperatures and drought. ThePhaseolus genus has what it takes to confront problems that for years we thought to be intractable. Dr. Steve Beebe, CIAT's Bean Program Leader   PABRA’s bean breeding programs are closely integrated with CIAT’s program at its headquarters in Cali, Colombia, which hosts the largest Phaseolus bean genebank in the world, containing over 37,000 bean types. Beans with high iron, resistance to diseases such as root rots, heat tolerance, drought tolerance, tolerance to soil problems, and insect resilience, are uniquely bred in Colombia, or made available to PABRA’s partners. This represents huge potential: for example, using Phaseolus coccineus, the scarlet runner bean, researchers in Rwanda continue tobreed beans with even higher levels of acid soil tolerance of up to pH 4 – which could dramatically improve yields in environments in western Rwanda, northern Zambia, and other countries. Beans stored in the genebank show potential for unique disease resistance that has not yet been tapped in Africa. Reports suggest that some bean species may carry resistance to the most destructive pest of bean in Africa - bean stem maggot. If beans resilient to bean stem maggot could be released in Africa, that would be a major step forward, making beans more profitable for farmers.  

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  • Defining a new approach: better beans for Africa

    By Dr. Robin Buruchara, Director of the Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA) Editorial of PABRA Annual Report 2016 – 20th Anniversary Special Edition Venture onto any small farm…

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  • When spiders unite, they can tie up a lion

    By Debisi Araba, Regional Director for Africa, CIAT There’s an Ethiopian proverb: “When spiders unite, they can tie up a lion.” I’ve always been fascinated with the potential of sustained…

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  • Finding white gold

    By Dr. Jean-Claude Rubyogo, Seed Systems Specialist and East and Central Africa Bean Research Network (ECABREN) Coordinator There was a time when, as researchers, our focus was on breeding beans to…

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  • Commodity Corridors: A paradigm shift in PABRA’s business

    In the last 20 years, PABRA researchers have found that novel approaches are needed to eliminate bean production bottlenecks. We have made significant progress towards getting better beans to…

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  • Transforming agriculture for better incomes and diets in Africa

    Citation PABRA. 2017. Transforming agriculture for better incomes and diets…

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