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USDA Grants Will Support Research to Improve Common Bean

As part of the U.S. Government’s efforts to help smallholder farmers lift themselves from poverty, Feed the Future is supporting five new research projects on the common bean, an important staple crop produced throughout food-insecure areas of the world, including East and Southern Africa.

In December, in partnership with USAID under Feed the Future and as part of the USAID-USDA Norman Borlaug Commemorative Research Initiative, USDA awarded five grants totaling $4.5 million to support research on improving the common bean.

Cornell University, Iowa State University, Michigan State University, and the University of Nebraska will conduct research that aims to make the common bean more resistant to soil-borne pathogens and will develop new methods to improve and transform the common bean through better breeding practices.

Keeping with Feed the Future’s goal to coordinate global food security efforts and donor resources for maximum impact, USDA encouraged project leaders to make connections with ongoing and relevant projects such as the Common Bean Coordinated Agricultural Project and the Feed the Future Food Security Innovation Laboratory: Collaborative Research on Dry Grain Pulses. USDA also encouraged applicants to develop content and programs suitable for delivery through existing extension programs, such as the eXtension Plant Breeding and Genomics Community of Practice and the Legume Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education.

Through Feed the Future, USDA and USAID are coordinating their research portfolio with the ongoing work of other donors, multilateral institutions, and government and non-government entities atthe country level to effectively improve agricultural productivity, reduce food insecurity and generate economic opportunity. Under Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s research investments in global food security have more than doubled.

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The common bean, Phaseolus vulgaris, is widely produced throughout food insecure areas of the world including many Feed the Future countries such as those in East and Southern Africa. In collaboration with and using funding provided by USAID, NIFA-USDA is seeking research proposals to develop approaches and/or methods to address challenges to common bean production among smallholder producers.

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