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 UN-declared International Year of Pulses 2016.

Organised by CIAT, Legume Innovation Lab and IITA, the week-long event brought together researchers working across legumes, including common bean, cowpea and faba beans, all of which face similar challenges, such as poor investment, bottlenecks in seed systems and minimal (but growing) private sector involvement. And yet all have great potential to increase the food security, nutrition and incomes of smallholder farmers, value chain actors and communities in sub-Saharan Africa.

Highlights from the week: 

  • More than 100 PABRA partners from more than 15 countries, including researchers from CIAT and national research stations, community based organisations and private sector business owners, attended the event
  • More than 50 research papers, in the form of posters, oral presentations and as part of plenary sessions, were presented by CIAT and PABRA partners (see links below)
  • Researchers from CIAT and PABRA co-led two packed-out plenary sessions that generated substantial discussion on seed systems and value addition, and appeared as panelists in plenary discussions on nutrition, gender, and nitrogen fixation and sustainable intensification
  • Partners from Uganda, Burundi, Kenya and Swaziland brought value-added bean products, including flour, scones, biscuits and jam, for delegates to sample. Bean Jam, invented by Jane Tsela from Malkerns Research Station, Swaziland, was a great hit with all, including Honorable Given Lubinda, MP, Zambian Minister of Agriculture and Livestock (pictured below)

Exhib Minister jam

  • CIAT Director General, Ruben Echeverria, and PABRA Director, Robin Buruchara, had a fruitful meeting with the minister to discuss opportunities for further research partnerships with Zambia. Already, Zambia is an active member of the PABRA network, however, they also agreed to explore potential collaborations in soil and forage research
  • Catherine Madata, bean breeder from Southern Tanzania and Steve Beebe (pictured), Head of CIAT’s bean programme based in Cali, Colombia, received lifetime achievement awards from TMAC for their service to legume research


  • Paul Aseete (pictured below), a researcher from NARO, Uganda, was shortlisted for the Young African Grain Legume Scientist 2016 for his research on pre-cooked beans and value added products, a PABRA research project in Uganda and Kenya in partnership with NARO, KALRO and private sector partner Lasting Solutions, which aims to develop a fast-cooking and affordable pre-cooked bean product


  • PABRA and CIAT participation in the conference was supported by SDC, IDRC and TLIII.

Photos from the conference – will be available on the conference website soon.

Presentations from the conference – are available on the conference website.

Thank you to all the sponsors and partners for making the conference possible. Image-1

PABRA and CIAT research presented at the conference: 

Abiotic stress:

Economics and Value Chain Development:

Gender and Youth: 

Genomics and Plant Breeding:

Integrated Crop Management:

Nutrition and Health:

Plant Pathology:

Seed Systems: 

Sustainable Intensification:

Technology Dissemination and Impact: