Annuarite Uwera: Research Technician and Bean Breeder, Rwanda Agriculture Board, Rwanda

Annuarite Uwera cuts a tall, elegant figure as she puts on her white lab coat. Sporting pink nail varnish and sparkling blue pumps, she stands out among the swathe of dark green leaves in the greenhouse of climbing beans.

She doesn’t hesitate to dive into a detailed explanation of her work, complete with details of the science behind breeding for improvement in the common bean – making crosses, using molecular tools in breeding like Marker Assisted Selection (MAS) – to fight fungal and viral diseases.

“Climbing beans yield three times more than bush beans, so most of the varieties we are working with are climbing beans – we are focusing on those,” she says, walking between the neat rows of potted beans. “In future, we will be looking for drought-resilience other climate-related characteristics as well.”

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She may be a young scientist just starting out in her career, but she makes no secret of her bold ambitions. “I’m doing my training and my dream in the future is to become a bean breeder,” she explains. “It’s what I’ve always wanted to do,” she says, flicking her long braids behind her.

“As I’m specializing in disease resistance, I would like to help farmers to identify diseases. My first step towards success will be to help farmers differentiate between different diseases.” She will know she’s is on the right path if she can do that.

“That will be a big step for me and a contribution to my country,” she says. “Then after that, my work will be to develop those bean varieties which have resistance to disease. We are there to develop varieties for farmers and give them access to better seeds, to be sure they don’t have to worry about diseases.”

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Together with her colleague, she begins dissecting a small bean with tweezers to illustrate how the crossing and breeding is done. “I will be very proud if I know that those farmers are able to differentiate diseases by themselves,” she continues.

She is now completing her studies in Rwanda, as part of a bigger bean program team. She explains enthusiastically that she cannot work alone – the team that she works together with is essential to attaining success. Although as a breeder she has to rely on hard work to make a name for herself as a good scientist, she knows that being part of a good team is helping her get there.

“I can’t work alone,” she says. “We have the scientific means, we are able to work hard. We are already producing seeds, and high-yielding varieties as well. We are already making a difference, and as a young breeder, my dream is to make sure that Rwanda is among the highest bean producers in Africa.

We are already working on this and we are proud. As a team, together we can accomplish greater things, so that our smallholder farmers can reach their own goals too.”

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With the United Nations declaring 2016 the International Year of Pulses, we are taking a look at some key players in the pulse world and how their work brings beans to the table. To learn more visit iyp2016.org.

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