Better soybean varieties offer African farmers new opportunities
Posted by African Press International on January 25, 2011
Two African nations—Malawi and Nigeria—have released three improved soybean varieties that can enhance the productivity of the crop and offer farmers better opportunities.
The three varieties are code-named TGx1740-2F, TGx1987-10F, and TGx1987-62F.
TGx1740-2F was developed by IITA in collaboration with the Department of Agricultural Research Services (DARS) in Malawi. Varieties TGx1987-10F and TGx1987-62F were developed by IITA in collaboration with Nigeria’s National Cereal Research Institute (NCRI).
The on-station and on-farm testing of TGx1740-2E, TGx1987-10F, and TGx1987-62F was funded by the Tropical Legumes II project.
The Malawi Agricultural Technology Clearing Committee (ATCC) on 18 January 2011 officially approved the release of TGx1740-2F while the Nigeria Varietal Release Committee released TGx1987-10F and TGx1987-62F on 2 December 2010.
According to Hailu Tefera, IITA Soybean Breeder based in Malawi, the varieties outperformed the standard and local checks grown in the two countries, offering high grain yield in multiple locations under on-station and on-farm trials.
“In Nigeria, medium-maturing varieties TGx1987-10F and TGx1987-62F proved highly resistant to rust, bacterial blight, and Cercospora leaf spot,” says Ranajit Bandyopadhyay, IITA Pathologist.
The varieties are preferred by many farmers because they smother weeds and reduce the cost of weeding. Farmers that participated in the on-farm trials of the varieties last year said they preferred them especially for their golden color at maturity.
In Malawi, TGx1740-2F gave the highest mean grain yield of 2464 kg/ha.
“It exceeded the grain variety Nasoko and the widely grown promiscuous variety Magoye which were used as checks by 10% and 32% during the two-year multilocation on-station trials,” according to IITA data.
The variety performed equally well during on-farm participatory variety selection trials in four districts of central Malawi. In the 2009/10 season, it outyielded all the new types of soybean varieties under testing by giving 2248 kg/ha. It also surpassed Nasoko and Magoye by 15% and 38%, respectively.
“Farmers had many reasons for falling in love with this variety ─it matures early, has more pods per plant up to the top of the plant, performs well under poor and erratic rainfall, and has better lodging resistance,” says Tefera.
“It is a big milestone for IITA as this is the first time that an IITA-developed promiscuous soybean variety – one that is able to nodulate effectively with diverse indigenous Rhizobia in the soil – is released in Malawi,” he adds.
High in nutritive value, soybean is fast gaining appeal in Africa, as it offers a cheap source of protein. The crop is also emerging as an important feed, food, as well as raw material for producing high-quality protein products. For smallholder farmers it is an important cash crop and also improves soil fertility because of its ability to fix high amounts of atmospheric nitrogen.
The development of these varieties serves as a boost to African nations as, together with partners; they strive to reduce hunger and poverty.
FILED BY Godwin Atser
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