Introduction - general description
We will improve and develop an underutilised grain legume crop - ricebean - in Nepal and India. The crop has a potentially important role to play in improving food security through increasing the diversity and sustainability of cropping systems and increasing the management options available to the poorer farmers. It has the potential to play a major role in intercrop systems, it can also be grown on the edges of the terraces or sloping hillsides, as well as on rice bunds and under shifting cultivation on hillsides. Although grown in both countries, landraces predominate and there is little or no choice of improved varieties as there has been almost no modern plant breeding in the crop, and seed supply is limited or non-existent. Moreover, when this has been done, little or no attention has been paid to improving grain quality or adaptation. Consequently, ricebean is not grown widely despite its suitability for marginal areas where many poor people live. Moreover, markets are virtually absent for the crop. Ricebean is not part of any CGIAR mandate, it does not appear in the common fund of commodities or the European catalogue of varieties, and is not mandated by the NARS in India or Nepal. The species has the potential to produce large amounts of nutritious animal fodder and its grain is of high nutritional quality. It has been under-researched and would respond well to an integrated approach involving plant breeding, improved agronomic practices and broad market development.
We will utilise the complementary capabilities of the partners to identify and measure the diversity within the range of germplasm available in India and Nepal and characterise it for suitability to the rice- and maize-based cropping systems of the region, matching farmer-preferred varieties to diverse seasons, environments and markets, using a combination of genetic, agronomic, and socio-economic approaches firmly based on client-orientated principles to make ricebean more than locally-popular by identifying genotypes and parents for breeding programmes suitable for integrating it into rice and maize-based cropping systems and into consumers' diets in WNE India and Nepal. To do so, we will build on the long experience of the partners in successful work using such approaches in a range of crops in Nepal and India, in a range of production systems and environments.
The work plan has been designed to address the six scientific and three other objectives of FOSRIN, namely:
- To analyze the supply-chain for stages and linkages where product value of improved ricebean is potentially lost or where information on product quality may be compromised or lost
- To assess genetic diversity and indigenous knowledge on ricebean in Nepal and India
- To assess the potential impact of enhanced pulse availability on local human nutrition.
- To develop a Market-based Legumes Traits Value-Index (MLTVI) that allows breeders to assess ex an te the value of new legumes in terms of their monetary value to consumers
- To develop innovative and efficient marketing methods for high quality, protein-rich products from the crops to increase market accessibility, product value and promote export value
- To develop policies to support and promote equitable access to such protein-rich foods, building sustainable medium and long term food security
- To ensure effective integration of results, hypotheses and germplasm, and their wide dissemination to stakeholders and other interested parties
- To ensure dialogue between participating institutions, research teams, other projects, participating communities and governments
- To strengthen sustainably the research capability of the Asia Partner Country institutes involved in the project
To achieve this, the workplan has been divided into scientific (genetic, socio-economic and health), and administrative areas (see the PERT chart). We will characterise the supply chain and analyse consumer demand ( WP1 ), involving the collection of considerable quantities of survey data and information from different societal groups. We will assess germplasm and indigenous knowledge using a range of different techniques from participatory to molecular ( WP2, WP3 and WP4 ). We will assess the contribution that inclusion of ricebean in the diet could play towards improving the health of the people in the target areas (WP5). In addition, all the workpackages will contribute to Objective 9. The Work Packages are as follows:
- Supply-chain, consumer demand and marketing
- Assessment of genetic diversity and indigenous knowledge
- Molecular markers
- Germplasm characterisation and adaptation
- Nutrition and health
- Coordination and management
- Review and assessment