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Mungbean makes news from West Africa to Australia

Mungbean has long been a popular crop in Asia, but other parts of the world are beginning to take greater notice of this nutritious legume.

Crazy about mungbean in Senegal

Ozzie Abaye, an extension specialist at Virginia Tech running a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) project in Senegal, introduced mungbean to the country in 2012. Before 2017, the project used only one variety – ‘Berken’, obtained from Oklahoma, USA. Due to increasing demand, in 2016/2017, the project decided to test new lines, including 60 lines from the WorldVeg mungbean breeding program. “The entire country is crazy about mungbean,” Ozzie said. “People simply love it.”

She shared what mungbean growers and consumers are saying about this new legume in their country: “They like that mungbean is easy to grow, harvest and process,” said Ozzie. “Some farmers are harvesting up to 5 times. It’s a short-season crop (50-60 days) that fits well into rotations, and helps nourish the soil.”

The high-protein, easy-to-digest legume appeals to local palates. “Kids and adults like it and eat it when available – for breakfast or dinner,” Ozzie said. “Several people mentioned that if you eat mungbean, ‘you can go a long time without being hungry.’ And breastfeeding mothers said if they eat mungbean they produce plenty of milk and don’t need to buy formula to feed their infants.”

Machinery to harvest mungbean in Asia

The inception workshop for the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)-funded project on “Improved Mungbean Harvesting and Seed Production Systems for Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan” was held from 11-12 October 2017 in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. Major project activities include developing a package of cropping practices to facilitate mechanical harvesting, including desiccation; developing the most suitable mungbean harvesting system for each country; and assessing and communicating the likely impact of mechanization on women and providing management options to benefit the livelihood of women. Participants from the partner countries including the private sector participated in the workshop.

The project launch was followed by a five-day workshop on statistical design and analysis for plant breeders, practical plant breeding, and hands-on training with the KDDart plant breeding software suite at the World Vegetable Center South Asia office in Hyderabad, India from 23-27 October 2017. Twenty project staff from Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and Taiwan attended to work with experts from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and Diversity Arrays Pyt Ltd, Canberra. The trainers sought to develop the skills, knowledge and scientific rigor of project participants, enabling them to deliver increased value in a vital project that is directly supporting the development of profitable and resilient mungbean varieties through this ACIAR investment.

Robust datasets generated from improved international mungbean trials and shared through the project will underpin development of relevant new germplasm with key traits, including tolerance to biotic and abiotic stress in South & Southeast Asia, and Australia.

Story and photos: Ram Nair

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