The impacts of CIAT’s collaborative research

14 May, 2012 by (comments)

Starting today and until next 5th of July—the date in which we will be celebrating the 45th anniversary of CIAT’s work in science in tropical agriculture, in collaboration with hundreds of partners who share our commitment in generating development impact—we will be presenting the Center’s main achievements since the late 1990s.

Most of these impacts resulted from improved crop varieties adopted by farmers, which have generated significant benefits for rural smallholders. In this post, we will start with common beans.

Common Bean

  • By 1999, improved varieties of common bean were being planted in about 50% of the bean area in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and almost 15% in sub-Saharan Africa, boosting yields by 0.1 to 0.9 tons per hectare.
  • The gross annual value of the production increases resulting from variety adoption at that time was estimated at around US$180 million for LAC and $25 million for Africa, 1 with a cumulative value since 1970 of nearly $1.1 billion. By the end of the last century, an estimated 2 million rural households had directly benefitted from improved CIAT beans.
  • According to a more recent study, the adoption of improved beans in Africa will generate net benefits worth nearly $200 million against investments of $16 million from 1986 to 2015, with an internal rate of return of 81%. Almost 5.3 million rural households have benefitted from modern bean varieties over the last 17 years.
  • The proportion of the total bean area planted to improved varieties containing genetic material from CIAT has doubled over the last decade, increasing to 30%. In Africa alone, these varieties benefitted an additional 1 million rural households during 2010.


Upward Bound in Rwanda

One of the most exciting episodes in the story of bean research impact concerns the spread of improved climbing beans in Rwanda. In recent years, thousands of the country’s farmers have switched to “climbers” from the more traditional bush beans.

While both are excellent sources of protein and help to improve soil fertility through nitrogen fixation, climbing beans yield up to three times more – perfect for a country with limited land. Some of the improved varieties also offer greater resistance to diseases of the leaves and roots, while others contain more iron or zinc.

Many of the new climbing varieties originated from CIAT and were shared/distributed?  via the Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA). Further breeding work was undertaken by the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) to enhance their suitability to the country’s many ecosystems.

Rwanda now produces more beans than it can consume and supplies improved varieties to other Central and East African countries for their own breeding programs. Further adapting climbers to thrive in warmer, lower altitudes could help the work reach even more farmers and help buffer the effects of climate change.

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Filed Under: Crop diversity, Inside CIAT