Two well-adapted common bean varieties identified in newly published TLSA research

In Timor-Leste’s cooler climates, the common bean is a reliable, well-growing and protein-dense staple crop, providing important nutrition for thousands of farming families. But until now, little has been known about which bean varieties are best adapted to Timor-Leste’s climate – which could have significant impacts on the ability of crops to produce sufficient yields to feed and nurture families, and to fix nitrogen for good soil health. In a protein-deficient country facing low crop yields and persistent problems of under-nutrition, like Timor-Leste, every bean counts.

Now, AI-Com and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries are pleased to share new research into common bean adaptability in Timor-Leste, which has successfully identified two well-adapted and high-yielding common bean varieties suitable for Timor-Leste family farms. 

Conducted by Armindo Moises, Luis Pereira, Antonio do Rego, Abril de Fátima, Amandio da Costa Ximenes, Tobias Moniz Vicente, Luis Fernandes, Apolinario Ximenes and Maria Martins, the research was presented as part of the 2017 Timor-Leste Studies Association proceedings, and is now available to read in Tetun on AI-Com’s website.

The researchers identified that farming families regularly use the common bean seed varieties that have existed for generations in Timor-Leste, but could benefit from extra genetic diversity that could deliver hardier plants and greater crop yields – which provides a critical base of food security for families across the country.

Through a series of on-farm experiments conducted with 16 varieties in 22 sites throughout Ainaro, Aileu, Manufahi, Liquica, Viqueque and Baucau municipalities between 2009 and 2015, researchers sought to identify the bean varieties that are best-adapted to Timor-Leste’s climate and which can increase crop yields, in order to secure food supplies and promote stronger nutrition.

With support from AI-Com’s predecessor, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research’s Seeds of Life program, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries researchers conducted adaptive tests for 16 common bean varieties from Rwanda, a temperate tropical country with a climate ideal for growing beans.

Comparing local and imported beans over a number of years in different locations to determine the most consistent performers, the researchers identified two types of common bean: ‘RWV 1348’ and ‘Mwirasi’ varieties, which showed the most consistent production across different environments and between different growing seasons. From this, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries entered the two varieties, with new names (‘Ululefa-RW’ and ‘Flexia-RW’, reflecting their test locations) into the multiplication phase for seed certification – these varieties are now ready for farmers to plant in their own farms.

Four new varieties — Ululefa-RW’, ‘Flexia-RW’, ‘Decelaya’ and ‘MAC 28’ were the best-performing bean varieties, showing greater and more consistent results over the local varieties currently being used in many farms. These may also be launched in the future.

Titled ‘Adaptation tests for common beans in Timor-Leste’, the research was published in Tetun and is available to read for free now on AI-Com’s website.

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