Purification and Bottling Plant, ZAMORANO Cares for a Vital Resource
29 February, 2016
Renovation of the Post-harvest Plant
29 March, 2016

Food Security: Three Powerful New Bean Varieties for Latin America

The ZAMORANO Bean Research Program, directed by professor and researcher Dr. Juan Carlos Rosas, with the collaboration of other institutions, developed and released three new superior bean varieties with enhanced nutrients, disease resistance and drought tolerance.

A new red bean variety contains higher levels of iron and zinc and represents Honduras’ first official release of a bio-fortified bean, according to Dr. Juan Carlos Rosas, Coordinator of the Zamorano Bean Research Program. It is also characterized by strong agronomic performance and market acceptance.  The two new varieties of black beans are well adapted to climate change, more resistant to virus, and have strong commercial acceptance.

Ing. Jeovany Perez, Executive Director of the Directorate of Agricultural Science and Technology (DICTA) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock of Honduras, commented that these new varieties have been the product of a team effort between institutions. “Dr. Rosas is a very important person for Honduras. The link between DICTA and ZAMORANO strengthens us as a country. The seeds we release are used by all producers and these new varieties will be an alternative for export and offer a great advantage to improving the nutritional condition of people, especially children,” Perez said. “Thanks to ZAMORANO, especially Dr. Rosas, for their contributions. “

The new bean varieties were validated in other Central American countries, and are being released by the Honduran Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock. ZAMORANO, through the Zamorano Bean Research Program, partnered with the Ministry’s Directorate of Agricultural Science and Technology to inform producers and representatives of leading organizations about the new varieties.

Bio-fortified bean varieties have been released in several Central American countries through a partnership of ZAMORANO, DICTA, the Bean Research Network, and farmers who collaborate in Participatory Plant Breeding (PPB) programs. Participatory Plant Breeding programs engage farmers in identifying the traits they need, utilize their input in evaluation, and increase market acceptance of new varieties.  PPB has been a key strategy in Zamorano’s Bean Research Program release of bean varieties that have contributed to enhanced nutrition and increased farm income across Central American.

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Using PPB, Zamorano’s Bean Research Program (BRP) has developed and released over 70 improved common bean cultivars that responded to smallholders’ preferences for agronomic (yield, disease resistance and stress tolerance), nutritional (iron, zinc, protein quality) and cultural traits (grain type, cooking time, storage conservation). PPB encouraged the adoption of improved cultivars among more than 200,000 farmers in Central America, leading to yield increases of up to 20%. In addition to its partnership with the Honduran Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, BRP works in collaboration with the Central American National Agricultural Research Systems, the Universities of Puerto Rico, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania State, the USDA Tropical Agricultural Research Station and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture.

However, Honduras had not previously been able to exploit these opportunities because it did not officially release black bean varieties. These new varieties will enable Honduran producers to increase production, expand exports, and deliver nutritionally enhanced beans to consumers.

The ZAMORANO Bean Research Program has benefited hundreds of farmers in Central America and the Caribbean with bean varieties that reduce crop losses and enhance health and well-being.  ZAMORANO is an agricultural university committed to feeding the world through research, food production and leadership training, thus generating creative and comprehensive solutions that contribute to improving food and nutrition security, while being aware of the impact of climate change on agriculture.

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