P-efficient legumes II

Lead Organization:

National Institute of Agronomic Research (IIAM) - Mozambique, Penn State University

Partner Organizations:

University of Missouri-Columbia

Community of Practice:

East & Southern Africa


Tanzania, Malawi, and Mozambique




Phosphorus (P) deficiency is a major biophysical constraint to food production across large areas of farmland in sub-humid and semi-arid Africa. Estimates suggest that 530 million ha of soils in Africa have inherently low concentration and solubility of P in soils, making P a limiting factor for crop production. This includes significant areas of Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania. Common bean is one of the most important food legumes in the region, providing protein and income. Drought stress and low soil fertility, especially phosphorus (P) are limiting factors for bean productivity in Mozambique and Southern Africa in general. Beginning in 2001, CCRP has supported research to understand the root architecture and associated physiological processes needed to increase the efficiency by which legumes acquire P from the soil and to use this knowledge to breed P-efficient soybean and common bean cultivars. This work began in southern China and included Mozambique from 2005. Projects have involved partnerships between the root laboratories at Pennsylvania State University (PSU) with South China Agricultural University (SCAU) and Instituto de Investigacao Agraria de Mocambique (IIAM). The project is implemented by IIAM staff trained during phase 1 (three post-graduates returning from Pennsylvania State University and technicians trained at South China Agricultural University) to focus on the continued flow of new P-efficient bean and soybean cultivars from breeding through to participatory selection, seed multiplication and delivery of farmer and consumer preferred, high yielding adapted cultivars to rural communities. To bring the technologies developed during the previous four years to farm households, the focus is: 1) continued research in plant breeding and plant physiology (root traits) leading to the development of P-efficient common bean and soybean materials preferred by farm households; 2) development of seed systems to ensure the availability of the seeds of P-efficient materials in major bean production regions of Mozambique; 3) continued socio-economic assessment of farm household preferences as well as the adoption/diffusion of the new technologies; and 4) degree and non-degree training as a continued support towards IIAM effort for capacity building. Links with Escuela Agricola Panamerica (Zamorano), in Honduras will provide lines of P-efficient and drought tolerant materials from Central America (e.g. small-seeded red bean types), for on-station and on-farm evaluation and short-course training for IIAM technicians in PBB and PVS methodologies. CCRP funds will support training of one PhD student (plant physiology) and one MSc (Agricultural economics) at Penn State University.

Grant Aims:

Physiological, biological and agro-ecological impacts of root traits thoroughly understoodA number of Mesoamerican (small black and red seeded) bean genotypes with root traits for Phosphorus efficiency identifiedAvailability of information on bean production and consumption, dissemination approaches tested for widespread seed adoption and diffusion, and improved access to bean supply chains by men and women in the communitiesDistribution of a sufficient quantity of seeds of P-efficient genotypes to more than 2000 farmers living in more than eight communities in Mozambique, and development of a local seed multiplication system operated by farm households (small businesses) operating in the communities, or other partnersEvaluation and release of soybean varieties to soybean-growing farmers in northern and central Mozambique made. At least two graduate students from IIAM trained at Penn State in relevant subjects, and one additional graduate student who will be assigned to the projectTwo IIAM technicians trained in PPB and PVS, seed production and dissemination techniques, and management and evaluation of disease resistance, drought and low fertility tolerant trials and other relevant topics at Zamorano by the end of the projectSelected farmers (mainly women) directly trained in their communities in relevant subjects in soil fertility management and seed maintenance

Outputs and Outcomes:

This project will contribute to the Mozambique Government Green Revolution Strategy by a) developing new more productive crop varieties (P-efficient common bean and soybeans); b) producing foundation seeds for further multiplication through our seed multiplication program in two research stations; c) distributing seeds to local farmers for testing to understand bean acceptability and impacts; and d) making available some multiplied seeds to small-scale seed companies for marketing and diffusion to others. The work program fits the CCRP Southern Africa strategy by building capacity in legume innovation, enhancing farmer access to productive bean cultivars to enhance household nutrition and income and will demonstrate workable seed systems on a local scale. Links to seed companies and seed distributors (agro-dealers) funded by AGRA and other opportunities to take outputs to scale will be sought at an early stage.