FRR Vol 2 No 2_2018: Situating the Grain Legume Agenda in African Agricultural Research for Development Strategies

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

At the household level, legumes have the potential for a triple win – ensuring food security, adaptation to climate change, and mitigation of GHG emissions. Through their potential contribution to ecological intensification and diversification of production patterns in various farming systems prevalent in Africa, they provide sustainable and viable livelihood-enhancing options. This means leguminous crops must necessarily occupy a principal place in the food and nutrition security strategies of African countries. The legume agenda contributes directly to all the three levels of the CAADP Results Framework and should thus be properly situated in country CAADP implementation plans as well as the emerging Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa (S3A) that seeks to mainstream science as an essential part of agriculture-led social and economic transformation in Africa. The S3A proposes to facilitate collaborative arrangements for pooling and cross-border sharing of infrastructure and human capital to strengthen AR4D capacity of African countries. Landmark advancements have been registered in legume research and development in Africa largely due to multi-country, issue-driven networks typically mediated by the CGIAR. North-South-South partnerships brokered around specific thematic areas have equally contributed to advancement in legume research in Africa. Such models for delivery of legume AR4D need to be fostered to bring to scale available technology and institutional packages. For legumes to play a greater role in human nutrition and economic development, many issues still need research attention. These include technology advancements to improve legume yields and tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses; screening for susceptibility to storage-induced textural changes; elimination of anti-nutritional and anti-metabolic factors; improving the protein quality and flavour characteristics; expanding the biofortification spectrum; and bioprospecting for more effective Rhizobium strains. Breeding (conventional or using genetic engineering) will be central in addressing many of these challenges, but other downstream value chain competencies (e.g. in processing and postharvest) will also be required.

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