In the face of climate change, the global food system requires much diversity and farmers who struggle to produce need climate-resilient crops to help them cope or adapt to global warming. An international team of scientists has sequenced the genome of a climate-resilient bean that could enhance food security in drought-prone regions, Food For Afrika reports.
The bean native to Africa, produces highly nutritious beans used for food and livestock feed. Not only is the plant drought-resilient, but it also thrives in various environments and conditions, contributing to food and economic security while improving soil fertility by fixing nitrogen.
Lead author Chris Jones, programme leader for feed and forage development at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) based in Kenya, said, “When it comes to valuing a crop, people often focus on its global market value in US dollars.
“However, for farmers who struggle to produce enough food, the value of a crop like lablab is incredibly high. Although it may be cultivated on a smaller scale compared to major crops, its impact on food security can be significant, and we need to recognise that.”
Key to diversified, climate-resilient food systems
The hyacinth bean, also known as the lablab bean, or Lablab purpureus, is cultivated throughout the tropics.
The lablab bean is one of many “orphan crops” – indigenous species that play an essential role in local nutrition and livelihoods but receive little attention from breeders and researchers. The global food system is vulnerable to environmental and social instabilities due to the little diversity in crop cultivation.
Underutilised crops like lablab hold the key to diversified and climate-resilient food systems, and genome-assisted breeding is a promising strategy to improve their productivity and adoption.
The article published on www.foodforafrika.com unpacks how the sequencing of the lablab bean’s genome could inspire genetic improvement work on lablab and other underutilised indigenous crops. According to experts, this could increase food and feed availability on the African continent and beyond. Read more here.
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