International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

BSF Project - Third Cycle

Genetic and trait characterisation of farmer and genebank sources of bambara groundnut for the development of drought tolerant lines in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia
Where are we working?
This Benefit-sharing project addresses nutritional, food and income security among resource-poor, rural communities in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, where small farmers are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the severity, duration and unpredictability of drought, caused by climate change.
Project partners are working with farmer networks to conserve, develop and evaluate crop genetic diversity for bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea (L.) Verdc.). Bambara groundnut is known as a “complete food”, containing an average of 63% carbohydrate, 19% protein and 6.5% fat. It is drought-tolerant and nitrogen-fixing, which helps replenish soil nutrients – making it suitable for intercropping systems, especially in drought-prone regions. Bambara groundnut provides essential nutrients for the unpredictable climates of the future. By looking at this underutilised crop, the project underwrites food and nutritional security and improves livelihoods for small farmers.

What are we doing?
  • Collecting and collating farmer landraces, selected landraces from genebanks, as well as novel pure lines and crosses;
  • Multiplication of germplasm adapted to specific project partners’ environments to form the basic material for selection;
  • Selection of parental lines for further crossing based on user-defined ideotypes;
  • Evaluation of core and ‘local’ germplasm for crop performance on multiple farm sites;
  • Identification of breeding lines with high drought tolerance and improved cookability (shorter cooking time);
  • Development of BamNetwork, an online platform for researcher networking and information and data exchange;
  • Organizing capacity building for researchers from low income countries.

What has been achieved to date?
Twelve parental lines covering the full range of ideotypes (e.g. plant architecture and testa colour) and climatic zones have been identified and form a common core material for the four locations. An association genetics panel (AG panel) has been established, with 420 genetically pure and distinct lines, genotyped using DArT Seq Genotyping-by-Sequence by CFFRC and IITA. This forms a resource for both genetic analysis and also for introduction of new genotypes to farmers for potential adoption and breeding.
All four Partners have multiplied a sub-set of 20+ core lines, which form the basis for comparative analysis in the four different countries using common protocols. Drought and HTC testing of the developed AG Panel has begun with a view to identifying potential sources of improved traits for farmer adoption or for future breeding in the country. Farmer surveys and participatory evaluation and selection of novel material have begun.
The information created has been disseminated via BamNetwork and a ResearchGate page which have been established for communication among the wider bambara groundnut researcher community and for project-specific updates respectively. Training on the use of the physiological analysis technology has been provided to partners at each project site. Participating PhD students have received specialized training relevant to the project.

Who has benefited?
Researchers and students have already benefited from project implementation, both in terms of capacity building, increasing research visibility and public accessibility of technical approaches and standards. Women only make up 15-20% of the direct beneficiaries so far. It is anticipated that there will be a better gender balance when the project reaches out to farmers, as bambara groundnut farmers tend to be women.

Best practices and success stories
Implementation of common, standardised practices and instruments for all partners has enabled comparison of crop performance across all project locations. The project has also promoted open-access wherever possible (protocols, field datasets and analysis, molecular datasets, grant germplasm requests wherever possible, publications in open access journals when affordable) to benefit research worldwide.
As contribution to genetic conservation and project backup, genotypes derived from landraces have been secured by the implementing partner (CFF) as well as samples stored in the UK.
The project encourages face-to-face discussion and onsite meetings as the most effective way to communicate in order to promote better understanding, better team work with stronger bonds and better ideas. Moreover, having received enquiries and offers of collaboration from across the value chain, the project is actively maintaining links to a diverse a range of stakeholders in order to enable understanding of the needs of multiple users.
Bambara gruondnuts
Window 3 - Co-development and Transfer of Technology project
Region: Asia
Target Countries: Ghana, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria
Implementing institution: Crops for the Future Research Centre

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