Nearing its quarter-century celebration, the Pan Africa Bean Research Alliance is a model for how a CGIAR center and countries can join together to surmount today’s challenges.
PABRA collaborates with hundreds of partners across 31 African nations and will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2021. In addition to knowledge generation and sharing, over 600 bean farmer and consumer-preferred varieties have been developed and released, increasing yields, incomes and nutrition for tens of millions of farmers and consumers.
These successes can be traced back to the remarkable group of partners that form PABRA, which together are poised to face the challenges of the coming decade and beyond.
A quick look at 2020 shows just how important partnerships were to making achievements:
Tepary beans were released in Botswana linked to heat, underserved farmers. The bean is better adapted to very hot, dry and salty environments, helping farmers combat the impacts of climate change and fill nutrition gaps.
We expanded climbing bean technologies in agro-ecological regions of Burundi with similar agro-climatic conditions to those in Rwanda to increase bean productivity at the farm level.
We strengthened seed production and delivery systems, engaging both public and private sector partners to incorporate various seed delivery options. This included using smaller seed packs, working with decentralized seed entrepreneurs, particularly women, and increasing the deployment of high iron and zinc bean varieties across seven countries.
Along with the formation of successful long-term partnerships, PABRA has taught us how to better fight malnutrition and food insecurity while supporting economic development in Africa. Multidisciplinary teamwork has been essential. PABRA innovates with specialists in breeding, foresight, policy, gender and nutrition, to mention just a few.
Long-term investment from funders has catalyzed more investments from governments of member countries and private sector in bean value chains. Continuing this will be key to future success.
Looking ahead, there are several areas where our work will focus. One is to accelerate innovation, especially in the context of climate change, which requires us to breed better varieties faster than ever. We need to harness the potential of digital technologies that can improve financial inclusion among rural farmers, and mechanization that will improve farmer yields and profitability. We must expand our activities to ensure greater gender equity and social inclusion in our work and for our beneficiaries. Our successes with biofortification need to continue. This linkage of food systems and nutrition will help address nutrient deficiency, hunger and malnutrition.
We also hope this work inspires an expansion to other legume crops and initiatives under One CGIAR.