As the world celebrated love, Crop Breeding Institute (CBI), was celebrating beans after receiving a prestigious award by the government of Zimbabwe in recognition of their outstanding contribution in research at the 12th Zimbabwe International Research Symposium 2019. The 2019 theme was The Nexus between Research Industry: Key to Innovation and Sustainable Development Research Council of Zimbabwe.
CBI is the first-ever breeding institute to release biofortified bean varieties to reduce malnutrition and a premium canning bean cultivar for commercial production in Zimbabwe.
The institute is at the forefront of bean research and development and has released more than five bean varieties with multiple desirable traits. In 2010, CBI released the first biofortified (high iron and zinc content) bean variety (N UA45) in Zimbabwe. Eight years later, the institute released the first-ever canning bean variety (Protea) and biofortified sugar bean variety (NUA674). The release of Protea comes at a time when the country has been importing lots of beans for canning and export. The introduction of this new variety is s expected to save the country more than USD l 440 000 annually on canning bean imports. The bean canning industry in the country relies on navy bean grain imports from countries such as South Africa. Malawi, Ethiopia, Dubai, and China.
“This is what hard work means. This award goes to the dedicated team that I work with at CBI. I am proud of the achievement we have made.” beamed Mr. Bruce Mutari, bean breeder, CBI – Department of Research and Specialized Services.
CBI beat seven other nominated individuals and organizations in categories to scoop the overall presidential award.
Impact on community food and nutrition security
The consumption of bio-fortified NUA45 grain can significantly contribute to the reduction of malnutrition deficiencies in Zimbabwe. The production and dissemination of the micronutrient-rich bean grain and products have significantly contributed to the national food fortification nutrition security strategy that was launched by the government in 2015. “Some of these bean-based products are easy to produce, and the sale from these products economically boosts the livelihood of these communities.’’
The new bio-fortified sugar bean cultivar NUA674 will be ideal for the national governments and NGOs’ feeding schemes. The drought-tolerant bean variety (Sweet William) will be ideal for the national governments and NGO’s feeding schemes in Matabeleland South and in the Lowveld region where the rainfall season is short or unpredictable.
With regards to the canning bean cultivar, its commercial release and the subsequent utilization for canning purposes is expected to improve canning bean production at a national level from 40 percent to around 95 percent and significantly reduce the canning bean import bill by 95 percent (saving the country around USD 440 000 annually). Furthermore, the canning companies have been operating around 50 percent capacity, thus the acquisition of the canning grain locally is expected to significantly increase the operating capacity of the canning companies to around 90 percent as they enjoy economies of scale. Cairns Foods Limited highlighted that the availability of a local canning bean variety will boost its local production, enabling the company to export some of the canned beans to other countries in Africa. This demand-led breeding effort has the potential to strengthen public and private sector linkages in the longer term based on mutual benefits, thus making significant and sustainable contributions toward national goals of food and nutrition security.
Since 2017, Health Foods Limited has been selling NUA45 grain as well as bean flour and porridge in more than 15 Pick and Pay supermarkets distributed across Bindura, Bulawayo, Chegutu, Chinhoyi, Gweru, Harare, Kwekwe, Mutare, Victoria Falls, Kadoma, and Norton areas.
Cairns Foods Limited has been producing the bio-fortified NUA45 grain in brine since 2017. Most of the non-governmental organizations, Christian Care, Care International. Welthungerhilfe, Practical Action, Goal Zimbabwe, Action Aid, Lead Trust, Cluster Agriculture Development Services), government school feeding schemes and UN organizations such as FAO through the Livelihoods and Food Security Programme (LFSP) are using the bio-fortified bean variety, NUA45 in their various interventions to increase food, nutrition, and income security.
Harvest Plus has been promoting the production of micronutrient-rich bean-based products among the communities. The Cluster Agriculture Development Services plans to establish innovation platforms in various districts in Zimbabwe with the assistance of the national bean research and development project. The new bio-fortified bean cultivar NUA674 is currently under seed bulking and will be taken up by ARDA Seeds, National Tested Seeds, Seed Co, and Zimbabwe Super Seeds in October 2018. The drought-tolerant bean variety Sweet William is being multiplied and market by Mkushi Seeds Company.
Public-Private sector partnership
The institution in collaboration with CIAT PABRA has developed and promoted the commercialization of more than 15 nutritious value-added bean products and grain since 2014.
Partners that have been collaborating with the project in these initiatives include Cluster Agriculture Development Services (CADs), Healthy Foods Limited. SIRDC, Cairns Foods Limited, and CIAT Harvest Plus. These partnerships have improved the adoption of improved bean varieties including NUA45 as the first bio-fortified bean variety in Zimbabwe to improve consumption of bio-fortified products in the fight to end malnutrition in Zimbabwe.
The processed products made out of the biofortified beans include: Canned bio-fortified NUA45 grain in brine, branded N UA45 grain packs, bio-fortified NUA45 bean flour, NUA45 bean and Yam flour (Madhumbe), NUA45 bean yogurt, NUA45 bean pudding among others
Some of the non-governmental organizations (Christian Care, Care International. Welthungerhilfe, Practical Action, Goal Zimbabwe, Action Aid, Lead Trust, Cluster Agriculture Development Services), government school feeding schemes and international organizations (CIAT-Harvest Plus), and UN organizations such as FAO through the Livelihoods and Food Security Programme (LFSP) are using the bio-fortified bean variety, NUA45 in their various interventions to increase food, nutrition, and income security.