The collaborative research projects funded by the Dry Grain Pulses CRSP provide research and training in all aspects of the bean and cowpea food chain to promote enhanced bean and cowpea utilization and consumption. Specifically, the areas covered range from genetic improvement research to develop improved varieties of beans and cowpeas,including molecular and biotech tools, Participatory Plant Breeding, and seed system development; increasing productivity of cropping systems; understanding and promoting the health and nutrition effects of pulses; value addition through processing; and the economics of the value chain (i.e., production, processing, distribution, and marketing) of beans and cowpeas and their products. Scientific outputs of the Bean/Cowpea and Dry Grain Pulses CRSP are summarized and highlighted under each of these themes.
Illustrative outputs of CRSP research in this area include:
- Novel methods to detect molecular markers for resistance genes: gene mapping, QTLs and RILs. The contributions of this CRSP in the genetic improvement of beans and cowpeas are well documented by Kelly et al. 2003, Beaver et al. 2003, and Hall et al. 2003.
- New varieties: Over the past 30 years, a total of 146 improved bean varieties and 25 improved cowpea varieties released in the U.S and many HCs (Host Countries) are outputs of Pulse CRSP research. These varieties have enhanced levels of pest resistance and tolerance to abiotic stresses.
- Multiplication and distribution of seeds: Through investment and support from CRSP, host country institutions involved in breeding research actively partner and collaborate with national extension system and NGOs to facilitate and promote seed multiplication and distribution. See the recent efforts of CRSP researchers in seed multiplication and distribution of bean seeds in Central America and the Caribbean region and of cowpea seeds in West Africa.
Integrated Crop and Pest Management
CRSP supported research in this area has generated several outputs that range from knowledge and tools creation from upstream research on disease screening methods and IPM-omics (i.e., the genomic and biological tools for understanding and controlling the legume pod borer) to more applied and downstream research outputs in the form of integrated management practices: improved natural resource management practices (e.g., tied ridging), optimum plant spacing, fertilization practices, Rhizobium inoculation, and outreach materials. CRSP research on pest management has led to the successful development of seed-applied biocontrol treatment; neem extraction and application protocols; maps of cowpea insect pest hot spots; IPM (Integrated Pest Management) packages that include biocontrol agents, biopesticides, and pest resistance management plans; and nonchemical control based storage technologies.
Food Science and Utilization
The Bean/Cowpea and Dry Grain Pulses CRSPs have made investments in food science and utilization research with the aim of developing value-added products to benefit both producers (in terms of more market opportunities) and consumers (in the form of convenient and nutritious food products based on beans and cowpeas). (See Phillips, et al. for an overview of research and outputs in this area.) The outputs of these research efforts are categorized into four groups, with illustrative examples included for each group:
1. Analysis of chemical, functional, and nutritional characteristics of processed bean/cowpea products. Some examples of CRSP outputs in this upstream research include generation of knowledge and information on:
- The protein quality, protein digestibility, and iron and zinc bioavailability of pulses and their products processed by different methods
- The methods for evaluating the cooking properties of beans and cowpeas
- The effects of the hard-to-cook phenomenon on cooking and physicochemical characteristics of beans and cowpeas
2. Improvements in the technology of bean/cowpea processing and storage. Some examples of outputs include development of protocols, prototypes, and innovations in:
- Artisanal processing of beans and cowpeas
- Hydrothermal processing and hydrothermal treatment of whole seeds to increase storage stability and food quality
- Micronization to address cooking characteristics of hard-to-cook beans and cowpeas
3. Development of processed bean/cowpea products and evaluating consumer acceptability. Examples of some of the products developed include:
- Creation and testing of weaning foods
- Nutritious bean-based granola bars and cereal
- Extruded/expanded pulse-based snack/convenience foods
- Fortified supplementary foods from locally available ingredients (e.g., gari)
4. Consumer/producer and demand analysis of processed bean/cowpea products. Outputs of research in this category include knowledge and information generation that can be used as an input in decision making by the CRSP and as a public good. Examples of research outputs in this area include:
- Assessment of consumer acceptance of bean- and cowpea-based processed products
- Bean use patterns and preferences of farmers
- Nutritional value and economic potential of bean-based ingredients and products
Health and Nutrition
The outputs of research in this area range from generating a knowledge base on the compounds contained in beans and cowpeas and their bioactive properties; science-based evidence on the impact of consumption of these grain pulses on reducing the incidence of chronic diseases (e.g., cancer) and improving other health conditions (e.g., HIV/AIDS, diabetes); and community-based nutrition research to formulate dietary recommendations to address health and nutrition issues facing specific target groups (women, children, and people suffering from certain health conditions). Notable scientific outputs of CRSP supported research in this area include:
- evidence of the effect of bean consumption on reducing the risk of colon cancer
- evidence that suggests that bean–based dietary composites have potential for use as supplementary / rehabilitation foods for preschool and school-age children as well as adults
- preliminary results that suggest that cowpeas have good anti-inflammatory properties that lower the risk of chronic inflammatory conditions
Outputs of CRSP research in this area relate to the creation of new knowledge and information in the form of public goods. CRSP research in this area is motivated by the need for understanding the structure, properties, and performance of pulse value chains to:
- facilitate the movement of new technologies from researchers to end users;
- influence decision makers and stimulate institutional innovations along the pulse value chain; and
- to create opportunities for pulse producers, processors, traders, vendors, and consumers to expand the role of pulse crops in their livelihood and welfare enhancing strategies
Examples of research outputs in this area of research include studies and publications on:
- production, marketing, and trade analysis of pulse crops (for e.g., the analysis of supply and demand of cowpea in West Africa and the trade implications of adopting Bt cowpea),
- cost of production analysis to identify strategies for enhancing smallholder profitability
- assessment of adoption and profitability of bean and cowpea technologies (e.g., the adoption study in Mexico,
- analysis of processing and value-added industry to gain insights into the structure and potential market opportunities for small-scale farmers (e.g., market assessment of Central American beans in U.S. ethnic markets and the potential of cowpea flour as a value-added product in West Africa), market strategies for Central American bean sector