Biological and economical battle of legumes and cereals..

In the recent past decades, most funding programs and agricultural subsidies from both government and donors have been focused on cash crops such as cereals, to overcome food security rather than nutrition security. Less had been done to promote and empower legume farmers. The debate was raised during the ICARDA workshop session to get the opinions whether The intensification of cereals will make legumes economically unattractive to farmers!. “People don’t eat only cereals, they eat cereals products with legumes therefore, I think the demand will increase at the same pace”…”As cereals will be more in the markets, the price will be lower and the price of legumes will boom”… What do you think?! IMG_2992

Surprisingly, legumes are imported from Canada to Algeria! The similar trend had been observed in Morocco. Algeria's and Morocco’s main crops are cereals, mainly wheat and barley. Why not crop rotation? It's possible past crop failure due to diseases and pests and labour demand could be the traps for this trend in Algeria and Morocco. However, more evidence is needed.

Yigezu Atnafe Yigezu and Shiv Kumar Agrawal gave their insight why legumes have to win the battle despite the challenges faced by farmers. IMG_3094

By adopting crop rotation or mixing cereals with legumes, the chances are higher that the yield will increase. “There are positive benefits for legumes in term of nitrogen fixation and pest resistance. Environment benefits include reduction of fertilizers application.” -Yigezu Atnafe Yigezu.

Legumes are crops that are climate smart and offer many benefits than fixing nitrogen. Actually, provide food rich in protein.” - Shiv Kumar Agrawal. IMG_3075

ICARDA and their partners have extensively worked on legumes and have legumes varieties Rhizobium repository which is tolerant to stresses including temperature and salinity. Biofortified legumes with higher yield have also been developed too. For instance, the improved varieties can grow and give super yield in just 90 days!

Different dynamics of legume in Morocco from 1990s’. Crop rotation with improved varieties of Faba bean led to higher yield; less fertilizer and insecticide application. Therefore, there is a need for more investment in breeding for insect and pest resistance legume varieties, mechanization of legumes and subsidizing the cost of cultivation. IMG_3026


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