The Pan African Bean Research Alliance (PABRA) has marked its 25th Anniversary in Kigali highlighting approaches and solutions that have improved livelihoods and food security across sub-Saharan Africa.
The anniversary was marked this September 5, 2022 ahead of the AGRF 2022 currently happening in Kigali, Rwanda with an emphasis to promote research and consumption of beans in Africa.
It was held under the theme “Beans Is How: Championing and transforming beans in Africa through science and partnerships in an ever-changing climate.”
Beans are a staple food and source of livelihood in Africa and through its innovative partnership, PABRA brings together over 934 partners generating and deploying bean-related knowledge and technologies across 31 countries including Rwanda.
For 25 years, the alliance shows that it has seen impactful transformation in Africa with over 37,000 bean types, with high iron, resistance to diseases such as root rots, heat tolerance, drought tolerance, and insect resilience.
They have been bred in and made available to 31 countries in Africa through international scientific collaboration deployed through the network.
PABRA showed that on average, farmers now earn $1,000 more and $500-800 more per hectare, per season with new beans in irrigated and rain-fed conditions respectively.
Claudia Sadoff – Executive Managing Director, the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR)- a global partnership that unites international organizations engaged in research about food security said the collaboration with PABRA as an implementing platform has seen impact in uptake and development of nutritious beans in 31 countries.
For instance, between 2004 and 2011, Rwandan farmers have seen a 20% increase in production of improved varieties and a 50% increase in yields.
“An additional 60 percent of Rwandan households would be food insecure if it was not for the work of scientists and availability of these nutritious beans,” Sadoff said.
“Our researchers were able to carry out research work on local seed production, capacity building most especially in finding new varieties.”
In 2016, the government passed a new law governing seeds and plant varieties in Rwanda along with the supporting ministerial orders which govern the law’s implementation.
Currently, Rwanda has 14 private seed companies that are active in seed production and marketing, which has made the sector head in the right direction.
Dr. Patrick Karangwa – Director General, Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) said that through partnership with PABRA, Rwanda was able to develop systems that enable more farmers and consumers to benefit from the beans, integrating value chains to markets for local, national, and international impact.
“Using good agricultural practices, farmers can grow enough beans for their own families and to sell. This provides an opportunity to empower themselves economically while feeding their families, community and beyond,” Karangwa said.
PABRA Director, Jean Claude Rubyogo said the jubilee milestone is a privilege to celebrate and be proud of the global bean breeding programs, a collaboration between Africa and Latin America through the global gene bank.
“We have saved over 37,000 bean types through the Future Seeds Initiative. PABRA member countries have seen great transformations in the bean value chain through technology innovations such as demand driven breeding, where farmer- and market-preferred beans are bred,” Rubyogo said.
Additionally, Rubyogo revealed that they are driving bean commercialization through the Bean Corridor (Through Malawi and Mozambique)-to maximize bean trade in sub-Saharan Africa and this could enhance the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA).
Rwanda’s Minister of agriculture Geraldine Mukeshimana who officiated the celebration of 25 Years said Beans initiatives that bring together different stakeholders in the bean value chain is a step towards increasing production for both markets and local consumption.
“Through this partnership, RAB has released 49 bean varieties that are high yielding, early maturing, resistant to pests and diseases and 18 of them are rich in iron (Fe) and zinc (zn),” Mukeshimana said.
Mukeshimana emphasized that beans aren’t just food for the poor, but a healthy and nutritious food for everyone and a source of sustainable income as the seed is highly needed for its rich protein package and being environmentally friendly.
The Deputy Regional Director of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Michel Evéquoz said that with the track record registered, they will continue supporting partners and research initiatives to improve food security in Africa- a key area of focus at the AGRF2022.
Nalan Yuksel, the Head of Corperation Pan African and regional development programming at Global Affairs Canada said their support to PABRA has had an impact on women economic empowerment and welfare among key areas, thus a need to remain relevant in mainstreaming gender in all its activities.