Case study

DFID Research: Farmers benefit from new mungbean varieties

Successful new mungbean varieties provide farmers in the Indo-Gangetic Plains with higher yields, higher income and a healthier diet

Mungbean Recipes
Mungbean Recipes. Picture: AVRDC

After a socio-economic survey showed that yield performance of local mungbean in the Indo-Gangetic Plains was low, researchers from the The World Vegetable Center (AVRDC) introduced new stronger cultivars to farmers. The aim was to promote mungbean research outputs for farmer adoption in South Asia and to improve income and nutrition by promoting mungbean production on fallow land.

Over 51,000 tons of high yielding mungbean lines with good tolerance against Mungbean yellow mosaic virus (MYMV) were distributed. The cultivars were evaluated through on-farm trials by a network of public and private sector organizations in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

With the new and stronger mungbean lines, the yield potential has risen from an average of 300 to 400 kg/ha to 2.2 ton/ha. The maturity duration is now 46 to 55 days compared to local controls of 70 to 83 days. Farmers in the Indo-Gangetic Plains have successfully adopted and integrated the MYMV-tolerant, short duration mungbean cultivars in the rice-wheat cropping system.

Many farmers were able to grow themselves out of poverty by incorporating this extra high value cash crop into their cereal rotations. Families also benefited from improved nutrition from a locally accepted high protein and iron-rich food resource. The project launched the “Mungbean Revolution” in the Indo-Gangetic Plains of South India by promoting incorporation of mungbean to the rice-wheat rotation, resulting in an increased in farmers’ net income, provision of nutritionally enhanced diets and enrichment of depleted soils.

The recent development benefits farmers with the availability of mungbean varieties, making it possible to grow mungbean as a catch crop during fallows in rice-wheat, rice-potato, for single-occasion harvest. The research allowed a new 3-crop annual cycle which had not been possible before as other potential catch crops had too great a maturity period to fit conveniently between a rice harvesting and wheat sowing cycle. As a nitrogen-fixing legume, the incorporation of mungbean into a cereal cropping system also added nitrogen into the soil to be used by the succeeding crops.

Researchers learned that methodologies to encourage adoption by farmers should be location specific, considering the socio-economic conditions and constraints of the beneficiary targets. They also realised the importance of recommending and demonstrating good agricultural practices to farmers to be able to reach the potential yield of the improved mungbean cultivars.

Mungbean is a useful iron source. By modifying the locally existing recipes to include vegetables one can encourage a healthy, balanced diet. Feeding schoolchildren with a mungbean-vegetable dish at lunch significantly improved iron levels in their blood. In North India, mungbean recipes are publicly distributed to promote a healthier diet. In Pakistan, the enhanced productivity of anaemic female workers whose diets were enriched with mungbean was raised from £1.9 million to 2.6 million. An estimated cumulative increase of 120 million pounds has been achieved by the intensive efforts of mungbean technology dissemination.

AVRDC and lead researcher S.Shanmugasundaram worked with NARS researchers in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. All benefited from capacity building and networking, having to screen thousands of mungbean accessions for biotic and abiotic resistance or tolerance, and to conduct multi-locational and multi-seasonal variety trials. Partnerships among public, private and non-profit communities have been shown to be essential.

In 2004, the West Africa Rice Development Association introduced mungbean into the rice-based system of West Africa, highlighting the potential impact in other geographical regions.

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Published 7 December 2010