About Faba Bean
Faba bean (Vicia faba L.), an important food legume in the Middle East and North Africa region, is a good source of protein and also a strategic crop due to its income contribution to the farmers and its significance in the intensification of wheat-based system. It is important for soil fertility because of its nitrogen fixation properties. It also tolerates acid soil types and water logging better than other grain legumes.
The optimal temperature for plant growth is 15-20°C, especially during the reproductive phases of flower and pod development. Faba bean tolerance of frost is better compared to other grain legumes. The crop requires an average annual rainfall of 400 mm or areas with irrigation.
There have been growing instances of plant diseases and weed infestation due to rising temperatures and changing precipitation patterns. Faba bean production saw a considerable decline, particularly in Egypt, as a result of susceptibility to foliar diseases and effects of parasites such as Orobanche, aphids, chocolate spots and rust diseases. High cost and unavailability of good seeds and low faba bean producers’ prices also contributed to the low production.
ICARDA and Faba Bean
Faba bean is one of ICARDA’s mandate crops. In response to new challenges and constraints posed by climate change and difficulties faced by faba bean farmers, particularly in Egypt, ICARDA scientists have been developing improved varieties of faba bean which are higher yielding and adapted to both biotic and abiotic stresses. Early maturing faba bean genotypes have also been developed that were resistant to chocolate spot and Orobanche and had low water requirement. The varieties released in Egypt in 2011, such as 'Giza 843' and ‘Misr 3’, were crosses between ICARDA genetic resources and landraces collected in Egypt. Another variety released, ‘Nubaria 3’ is drought tolerant.
ICARDA is disseminating improved faba bean technologies under an EU-IFAD- funded project. Improved varieties, combined with integrated pest/disease management techniques, were demonstrated in Egypt in the target regions of Dakahlia, Kafr El-Sheikh, Sharkia, and Al-Mansura (Old lands), Nubaria (New lands), and Assiut (Upper Egypt). On an average, improved varieties and a recommended package of interventions achieved yields that were 22.5% higher than more traditional varieties. Individual demonstrations at Sharkia recorded even 38% higher yields. It was found that the recommended technology package and improved varieties increased farmers’ grain yield by 256 kg/ha and reduced production costs by 350 USD/ha. The end result was an increase in net revenue by 550 USD/ha.
Successful results of the released varieties have encouraged the Egyptian Academy for Scientific Research and Technology (EASRT) to fund and initiate a ‘National Campaign on Faba Bean Rehabilitation’.
Another major thrust of ICARDA’s crop research has been bringing heat-tolerant faba beans to farmers in hot climate countries, such as Sudan. In 2014, three varieties of higher yielding faba bean were released in Sudan that can tolerate temperatures up to 35°C – ‘Hudeiba93’, ‘Basabeer’ and ‘Ed-Damer’. These cultivars have increased faba bean yields in Sudan by 40% and are now dominating farmers’ fields in the country.