Integrating improved mungbean as a catch crop into the dryland systems of South and Central Asia for increased smallholder farmer income and more sustainable production systems


The challenge

Mungbean (Vigna radiata) is a popular pulse crop, producing protein-rich food and nitrogen-rich residues. Dryland cultivation of mungbean in South and Central Asia is constrained by a shortage of water, high salinity soils, yellow mosaic disease (begomovirus) and storage pests like bruchids (Bruchidae sp.).

Our approach

The “Beans with Benefits” project aims to increase mungbean cultivation in these regions with a multidisciplinary approach in two countries — Pakistan and Uzbekistan. The project includes four components:

  • 1) identify salt tolerant, bruchid resistant and Mungbean yellow mosaic virus (MYMV) resistant germplasm;
  • 2) share this germplasm with breeders and researchers to develop improved mungbean varieties;
  • 3) develop production technologies for increasing soil fertility and crop productivity; and
  • 4) capacity building and strengthening of the uptake pathway for improved varieties and technologies.

The benefits

In Uzbekistan, every year after the winter grain harvest, 1.5 million hectares are available for secondary cultivation. For the first time, a comprehensive study on mungbean will be conducted in the country with a series of field trials, including promising or resistant lines to the abovementioned constraints, but also identification and development of technologies for increasing soil fertility and crop productivity. This includes trials examining temperature and drought impact on production; plant growth promoters as affected by salinity; decomposition of mungbean residues; and uptake of nutrients by follower crops.

The same approach is being followed in Pakistan, where the first-ever mungbean learning alliance has been established, engaging researchers, farmers, input suppliers, processors, and extension workers.

Expected impact

In both countries, mungbean is a well-known legume but there is a need for new sources of genes and cultivation techniques to develop extra-early maturing, salt- and heat-tolerant mungbean. Resistance to MYMV has been mapped on top of chromosome 5, responsible for almost 50% of the variation in resistance. A nucleotide marker tightly associated with the resistance locus has been made available for breeders. Resistance against bruchids has been found in wild mungbean and in two cultivated accessions. Markers have been shared with breeders for selection of bruchid-resistant genotypes. Thirty lines have been selected for distribution to partners in two target countries. Additionally, 30 lines with resistance to powdery mildew and potential resistance to MYMV were identified for distribution to partners. Salinity screening is ongoing and 60 accessions from the WorldVeg mini-core collections have been selected as promising and are undergoing further examination. The entire mini-core collection has been multiplied in both countries. The best lines will be used to develop extra-early maturing, drought- salt- and heat-tolerant varieties for production in mid-summer to late autumn for the dryland systems of South and Central Asia.

Technologies for increasing soil fertility and crop productivity are being developed. In a pilot scale study, inoculation with Pseudomonas fluorescens and Rhizobium improved growth compared to sole inoculation of Rhizobium under salt-affected conditions. The contribution of mungbean to soil fertility will be examined by determining the impact of abiotic stress factors on biological nitrogen fixation. Preliminary pot trial results indicate the likelihood of identifying genotypes for field application with better stress tolerance and improved nitrogen fixation, fostering the yield of subsequent crops.

Expected impacts of “Beans with Benefits”: improved livelihood of farmers through the identification of tolerant genotypes, integrate the best performing genotypes into crop rotations of dryland farmers, and enabling cultivation in adverse ecological conditions.



World Vegetable Center
Project coordination, germplasm screening, marker development, breeding, capacity development and socioeconomic studies

Roland Schafleitner, project manager,

Svein Solberg, genebank manager,

Ramakrishnan Nair, mungbean breeder,

Pepijn Schreinemachers, socioeconomics,

Bakhodir Kuziyev, site coordinator Uzbekistan,

Shernabi Khan, site coordinator Pakistan,


University of Hohenheim, Germany
Research on nitrogen fixation and soil quality

Thomas Hilger and Lisa Pataczek, and

Uzbek Research Institute of Plant Industry, Uzbekistan
Mungbean field trials, variety development and seed production

Amir Amanov, Director,

National Agricultural Research Centre, Islamabad, Pakistan
Mungbean field trials, seed production, variety development and socioeconomic studies

Shahid Malik, Program Leader (Pulses),

University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan
Seed inoculation with Rhizobium and plant growth promoting rhizobacteria

Zahir A. Zahir,

Start date: January 2015
End date: December 2017

Project countries

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