Learning alliance for mungbean
A mungbean learning alliance was established in 2015 under the BMZ-funded “Beans with Benefits” project to bring together researchers, farmers, extension workers, brokers, processors, millers, input suppliers and marketers to discuss issues related to mungbean production in Pakistan.
Through regular meetings of the alliance, researchers learn about problems farmers face in their fields, and farmers and extension workers receive updates on the latest production technologies including improved varieties, effective weed control methods, and mechanized harvesting. At the meetings input suppliers gather information to manage the seed and fertilizer stocks required to produce the next crop. Farmers strengthen their knowledge of the entire value chain, from production to processing to market, and learn about prevailing market prices for the commodity.
Farmers from different mungbean producing areas share their experiences with the previous mungbean crop at the start of the meeting. The group then discusses general concerns and progress, and by consensus develops a list of issues based on farmer preferences. If possible, researchers provide solutions to the problems on the spot, or take the concerns under advisement for future research.
In a recent meeting, farmers listed insect attacks, lack of quality seed, diseases (especially Cercospora leaf spot), environmental issues, and marketing problems as their primary concerns. Farmers were advised to reduce chemical pesticide use to help natural enemies flourish. They were informed that quality seed is available with parent institutes and private companies in Pakistan and also were encouraged to save their own seed. Disease-resistant varieties are also available, and researchers continue to develop resistant cultivars adapted to various production locations. Breeders are also addressing heat tolerance, an important characteristic as climates change. To ensure farmers have access to daily market prices for mungbean, the group agreed to devise a mechanism of information dissemination through the alliance using a social media application such as What’sApp.
Overall the alliance is proving to be a great platform for the improvement of mungbean production in Pakistan.
Story and photos: Sher Nabi Khan