• Reaping the benefits of using certified bean seed

    Walking down Kwamagana town in Rwanda, we find Alexis Nzeyimana on a motorcycle by one of his plots. Nicknamed ‘Rukirigitafaranga’, meaning tickling money in Kinyarwanda, Alexis has three farm sites…

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  • Transforming African agricultural through demand-led breeding: intersectional perspective

    By Eileen Nchanji Breeders across Sub-Saharan Africa came together to attend a training workshop in Nairobi, Kenya between 11th and 13th December 2017 to discuss breeding as a business. Presentations…

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  • The West and Central Africa Bean Research Network (WECABREN) Steering Committee Meeting – in picture

    The introduction and welcome committee (From L to R Dr. Robin Buruchara, Dr. Stella Ennim, Ms. Marie-Claude Harvey,…

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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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  • Transforming agriculture for better incomes and diets in Africa

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

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  • Scaling success: leading change with the Syngenta Foundation

    The catalyst for change came from catastrophe in Kenya, when farmers in the western part of the country lost their maize harvest to disease in 2012. At that time, Jacinta Majimbo, a bean farmer from Bungoma district in Western Kenya, could never be sure what her harvest might yield. Without access to quality seed, she often ended up with plants that only had a few pods.Then she discovered bean KK-8. This large red mottled bean is now available in clear packaging with labelled credentials. She knows exactly what she’s buying: an early-maturing seed that’s resistant to root rot; cooks quickly and is high-yielding.For Jacinta, the advantages of harvesting an additional 35 kilograms of beans each season are obvious. “It provides more food, and I can sell some to pay for school fees and other expenses,” she says. “KK-8 has made a big difference.” Yet until a few years ago, she had never heard of it – or been able to find it at the market. Taking better seeds to scale During the time that Kenya’s maize was hit by disease, Jonathan Mayer, joint-owner of Bubayi Products Ltd – a family-run seed business in Kenya’s North Rift region – saw a big gap in the market to provide seeds of alternative crops. “I saw what disease was doing to maize. It was wiping out entire harvests. Farmers needed access to alternative crops that weren’t available at their local agro-dealer,” he said. Bubayi had the necessary infrastructure, land and skills to produce “quality seed” of a sufficiently high standard for sale to farmers. And unlike other companies, they were also willing to take the risk and invest their own money. Joining forces with One Acre Fund – with a ready market of 167,000 potential customers with a growing interest in bean seed – they took the risk. Tapping the emerging market Bubayi, One Acre Fund and the Kenyan Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization formed a public-private partnership, supported by the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, to make KK-8 and other improved beans available to farmers. Led by KALRO, in partnership with CIAT through the Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance, it brought together seed companies, individual seed entrepreneurs, bean traders and processors in Kenya.As explains CIAT’s Jean-Claude Rubyogo, a seed systems specialist and member of the PABRA network: “The private sector has the infrastructure and investment to really increase bean production. Through partnerships, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in seed availability and accessibility across Africa.” Dr. Reuben Otsyula, from KALRO’s research station in Kakamega, partnered with Bubayi to produce breeder seeds – a necessity in bean seed systems. He provided 80 grams of another high-performing bean, CAL194, to Bubayi Seed Company in late 2014. Two years later, there are 7,550kg of breeder seeds in bags waiting to be sold. “That’s the power of the private sector,” said Rubyogo. “The partnerships have transformed bean markets in Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya – successes which can be replicated in other countries,” said George Osure, Regional Director for the SFSA in East Africa. “The partnerships have transformed bean markets in Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya – successes which can be replicated in other countries.” George OsureRegional Director, Syngenta Foundation in East Africa Market-driven demand: listening to the consumer Improved bean varieties are now commercially available, through licensing of released varieties to private companies. This model has also sped up improved seed releases in other countries, through the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), for example. A formal process of release documentation in catalogues, for instance, means that iron-biofortified beans previously released in Rwanda, did not need to go through rigorous variety registration procedures all over again when they were released in Burundi. The return on investment speaks for itself: a US$1 million donor investment has already generated more than US$3 million in improved seed revenues. A total of 146,000 farmers in Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya now have access to improved bean varieties – on average, 15kg per farmer. This is estimated to bring in a potential income of US$248 per farm in each country. Farmers like Jacinta are realizing that with a minimal investment in higher quality, certified seeds they can triple their yields and avoid disappointment at harvest. Photo credits: Jean-Claude Rubyogo Call to Action: Further investment is required to scale this approach in Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia to register varieties and issue licences translating into royalties with private companies from 2017. Policy makers need to invest in improved cross-country cataloguing standards, to spur cross-border trade and speed up new varieties releases, making business more attractive as economies of scale come into play. Investment by the private sector in the long-term is required to ensure licenses stay relevant for smallholder farmers and benefit them.

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  • Michael Kilango, Head of the Bean Research Program, Agricultural Research Institute – Uyole, Tanzania

    The sun peers through the early morning mist as Michael Kilango passes through the doors of the Agricultural Research Institute – Uyole, in Tanzania’s Southern Highlands. The station, in the…

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  • New study calls for shift to pre-pregnancy nutrition, to drive down stunting in Rwandan children under two-years-old

    A scientific report published in April calls for a shift in interventions to tackle malnutrition in children in Rwanda under the age of two. Among recommendations, authors urge renewed…

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  • CIAT & PABRA at the Pan-African Grain Legume conference

    Over 450 of the world’s most prominent grain legume researchers met in Livingstone, Zambia, earlier this month for the Pan-African Grain Legume and World Cowpea Conference, a signature event of the…

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  • Global survey shows shortfall in research investment in pulses

    Researchers attending the Pan-African Grain Legume and World Cowpea Conference in Livingstone, Zambia, this week have expressed concern at the lack of funding of research in pulses. Annual funding…

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