8 research outputs found

    The Bean – Naturally Bridging Agriculture and Human Wellbeing

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    Access to a food and a diverse diet are important to secure human wellbeing. A big part of our diet is carbohydrates, which cereals are superior in supplying. The challenge addressed in this chapter is to find appropriate ways to supplement these carbohydrates. Using Phaseolus beans as example, we discuss the focus of our efforts based on variations in yield of the crop and variations in the bean grain’s richness in minerals. Securing an abundant supply of minerals in the daily diet of people is a major challenge for mankind. But acknowledging that farmers cultivate their crops in very different environments may be a first important premise to re-establish the bridge between agriculture and human well-being. If the farmers are helped to address the localness, the food industry may benefit from such a premise as the supply of raw materials can be increased. When resources become even more scares in the very near future and climate change contribute to variability, such possibilities for resource use optimization will become an important agenda. A prototyping research approach at farmers’ level is advocated where particular value chains are described. Prototyping are particularly important when addressing localness

    Conservation agriculture affects grain and nutrient yields of Maize (Zea Mays L.) and can impact food and nutrition security in Sub-Saharan Africa

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    Maize is a major staple and plays an essential role in food and nutrition security in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Conservation agriculture (CA), a climate-smart agriculture practise based on minimum soil disturbance, crop residue retention, and crop diversification, has been widely advocated but without extensive research on the impact it may have on maize nutrient composition, and food and nutrition security. This study assessed the grain yield, macro- and micronutrient mineral content, and nutrient yield of eight maize varieties grown in Malawi, and how these are affected by CA practises over two seasons. The minerals were analysed by inductively coupled plasma (ICP) coupled to optical emission spectroscopy (OES) and to mass spectroscopy (MS). Grain yield and Se content differed among the varieties, while C, N, Fe, K, Mg, Mn, P, and Zn were similar. The local variety Kanjerenjere showed lowest grain and nutrient yields. The open-pollinated varieties (OPVs) concentrated more minerals than the F1 hybrids, but the latter showed higher yields for both grain and nutrients. Typical consumption of the eight maize varieties could fully meet the protein and Mg dietary reference intake (DRIs) of Malawian children (1–3 years), as well as Mg and Mn needs of adult women (19–50 years), but their contribution to dietary requirements was low for Fe (39–41%) and K (13–21%). The trials showed that CA increased grain yield (1.2- to 1.8-fold) and Se content (1.1- to 1.7-fold), but that it had no effect on C, K, Mg, P, and Zn, and that N (1.1- to 1.2-fold), Mn (1.1- to 1.8-fold), and Fe (1.3- to 3.4-fold) were reduced. The high increase in grain yield under CA treatments resulted in increased yields of protein and Se, no effect on the yields of K, Mg, Mn, P, Zn, and reduced Fe yield. Conservation agriculture could contribute in reducing the risk of Se deficiency in Malawian women and children but exacerbates the risk of Fe deficiency. A combination of strategies will be needed to mitigate some of the foreseen effects of climate change on agriculture, and food and nutrition security, and improve nutrient intake

    Conservation agriculture affects grain and nutrient yields of maize (Zea mays l.) and can impact food and nutrition security in sub-Saharan Africa

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    Maize is a major staple and plays an essential role in food and nutrition security in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Conservation agriculture (CA), a climate-smart agriculture practise based on minimum soil disturbance, crop residue retention, and crop diversification, has been widely advocated but without extensive research on the impact it may have on maize nutrient composition, and food and nutrition security. This study assessed the grain yield, macro- and micronutrient mineral content, and nutrient yield of eight maize varieties grown in Malawi, and how these are affected by CA practises over two seasons. The minerals were analysed by inductively coupled plasma (ICP) coupled to optical emission spectroscopy (OES) and to mass spectroscopy (MS). Grain yield and Se content differed among the varieties, while C, N, Fe, K, Mg, Mn, P, and Zn were similar. The local variety Kanjerenjere showed lowest grain and nutrient yields. The open-pollinated varieties (OPVs) concentrated more minerals than the F1 hybrids, but the latter showed higher yields for both grain and nutrients. Typical consumption of the eight maize varieties could fully meet the protein and Mg dietary reference intake (DRIs) of Malawian children (1–3 years), as well as Mg and Mn needs of adult women (19–50 years), but their contribution to dietary requirements was low for Fe (39–41%) and K (13–21%). The trials showed that CA increased grain yield (1.2- to 1.8-fold) and Se content (1.1- to 1.7-fold), but that it had no effect on C, K, Mg, P, and Zn, and that N (1.1- to 1.2-fold), Mn (1.1- to 1.8-fold), and Fe (1.3- to 3.4-fold) were reduced. The high increase in grain yield under CA treatments resulted in increased yields of protein and Se, no effect on the yields of K, Mg, Mn, P, Zn, and reduced Fe yield. Conservation agriculture could contribute in reducing the risk of Se deficiency in Malawian women and children but exacerbates the risk of Fe deficiency. A combination of strategies will be needed to mitigate some of the foreseen effects of climate change on agriculture, and food and nutrition security, and improve nutrient intake

    YIELDS AND QUALITY OF PHASEOLUS

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    Performance of Push–Pull Technology in Low-Fertility Soils under Conventional and Conservation Agriculture Farming Systems in Malawi

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    Push–pull technology (PPT) is one of the most viable low-cost agroecological practices that reduces the effects of insect pest infestations (e.g., stemborer) and parasitic weeds (e.g., Striga) in croplands. PPT was evaluated in low-fertility soils and two farming practices, minimum-tilled conservation agriculture practice (CA), and conventionally tilled practice (CP), in contrasting agroecological zones at the Chitedze, Mbawa, and Chitala stations in Malawi. Stemborer and Striga infestations were also investigated and the suitability levels of two Desmodium species. Farmers’ perceptions of PPT were gathered through a focus group discussion. The performance of PPT varied significantly between treatments, sites, and years on grain yields and the number of cobs that could be assigned to soil attributes. Significant variations were found in the number of exit holes, stemborer damage severity, and the number of Striga-affected plants with severe infestation. In Chitedze, CP recorded significantly shorter maize plants by 14.1, 11.6, and 5.8 cm than CP–PP, CA, and CA–PP, respectively, in 2016–2017. There were no significant differences in plant height between CP–PP, CA, and CA–PP. Similar results were also found in 2017–2018. Focus group discussions among farmers attested to up to 70% reductions in Striga weed and stemborer pests under PPT over the two seasons. Farmers who used push–pull technology reported a 45–50% yield increase. Push–pull was also perceived as a technology that improves soil fertility and controls soil erosion. The study presented the importance of soil physicochemical properties in the performance of the technology, as supported by the high occurrence of Striga asiatica in the country and the low suitability of Greenleaf Desmodium. Results reaffirmed the technology’s agronomic benefits in productivity, pest management, plant vigour, and Striga control. The cost of labour was described as a challenge, and research to identify more suitable Desmodium species is needed. The current study suggests the release of the technology in Malawi, emphasizing the inclusion of Desmodium and Brachiaria as animal fodder for the adoption of the technology
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