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Workshops on beans and related challenges and opportunities

Bean scientists had very tight agendas during August and September 2013. Beans, often referred to as “the meat of the poor,” offer a crucial source of vitamins and protein, as well as income for millions of people, particularly in Africa and Latin America.


Among the events scheduled for these months was the workshop on climbing beans, held in CIAT headquarters at Cali, Colombia, from 19–21 August, which had the participation of five breeders hailing from Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, DR Congo, and Tanzania – member countries of the Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA).

The workshop had a two-pronged approach: one, to review progress on the development of improved climbing bean varieties for medium altitudes and warm climates, and two, to share advances and breakthroughs in pest and disease resistance, nutritional value, nitrogen fixation, among other topics.

During the three days, the workshop activities focused on:

  • Information on methods and structure of voluble-bean breeding programs at CIAT
  • Training in the management of angular leaf spot under greenhouse conditions
  • Training in molecular breeding techniques


Beans are also a key component, along with maize, of the millenary culinary tradition of Mexico, a country from which five scientists traveled to participate in the workshop on bean physiology and genetic improvement for drought resistance, from 26–28 August.

The main purpose of this workshop was to get a better understanding of the current state of advances in areas such as drought-resistance mechanisms, linked particularly to the photosynthate remobilization capacity under drought conditions; as well as the opportunity to get a closer approach to applying useful genomic tools for varietal breeding.

During the three days of work, participants focused on learning the methods and structure of bean breeding programs for drought resistance at CIAT and use of molecular marker-assisted selection in breeding. Also, they made time to discuss future opportunities for collaboration.

bean_workshop_2013_3CIAT was also the venue, from 12–14 September, for a meeting of breeders coming from Uganda, Ethopia, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania, with the aim to review progress on key topics, including field selection of drought-tolerant bush bean varieties and data management in knowledge exchange platforms.

These are three concrete examples of team work in bean research, a vital crop in the diets of over 400 million people in the tropics, which has proved to be highly nutritious in protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and micronutrients.

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