TLII Report: Tropical Grain Legumes in Africa and South Asia

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The Tropical Legumes II project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has recently published a research report on six major tropical legumes (chickpea, common bean, cowpea, groundnut, pigeonpea and soyabean). The report Tropical Grain Legumes in Africa and South Asia: Knowledge and Opportunities brings together information on all six legumes. It contains an analysis of the impact of investments in agricultural research and development on productivity, a review of past trends in productivity and trade as well as projections through 2020, and constraints and opportunities for improving production. Main data sources are FAOSTAT, national statistics and ICRISAT, IFPRI, IITA and CIAT databases.

Some highlights of the report for Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are:

  • Grain legumes are grown by more than 100 million households in SSA and production is dominated by smallholders.
  • SSA represents 16% of the global area grown with the tropical legumes, but productivity is low with a contribution of only 6% to global production.
  • Increase in legume production over the past decades is mainly the result of an expansion of the area rather than improved productivity through technological changes.
  • Export earnings from legumes in SSA contribute only 0.4% of the global US$ 21.8 billion in export.
  • Demand for the six legumes in SSA is expected in increase annually by about 3% until 2020, while production increase is projected to be around 7% for chickpea, common bean and pigeonpea and 2.5% for cowpea, groundnut and soyabean.

Important constraints for yield gains include a lack of access to improved varieties, inputs and crop and pest management practices; poor input and output market access; price volatility; unfavourable landholding systems and land fragmentation as well as inefficient/ineffective extension services. Recent interest in legumes research and development has led to a number of initiatives in Africa, including N2Africa, that all aim to remove some of these constraints and improve productivity.

The full report can be downloaded here

Esther Ronner