New faba bean varieties released in Egypt are successfully resisting debilitating diseases and helping the country to regain its position as one of the most important global producers of faba bean. Over the past ten years production has declined considerably – often a result of susceptibility to foliar diseases, the effects of parasites such as orobanche, and competition with other crops, notably sugar beet and fruit trees. Egypt now satisfies around 70% of its demand through imports.
The improved varieties, which were distributed by the EU-IFAD funded initiative on wheat-legume production systems managed by ICARDA, were demonstrated on 35 fields across five governorates during the 2012/13 cropping season: Kafr El-Sheikh, Dakahlia, Sharkia, Nubaria, and Assiut. On average, improved varieties and a recommended package of interventions achieved yields that were 22.5% higher than more traditional varieties. Individual demonstrations recorded even higher growth rates - yields were 38% higher at Sharkia, for instance, on a plot infested with Orobanche.
In order to maximize production, the improved varieties are introduced alongside a package of inputs and recommended techniques, including: conservation agriculture; optimum fertilizer application rates; the application of seeds at a rate of 30 kg/fed, rather than the more conventional 50-70 kg/fed; and ideal irrigation schedules that effectively exploit growing stages and rain fall to achieve water savings. Farmers are also encouraged to practice early sowing – mid-October to early-November – and apply fertilizer through drip irrigation to strengthen faba bean resistance against foliar diseases like chocolate spot.
The success of the released varieties has encouraged the Egyptian Academy for Scientific Research and Technology (EASRT) to fund and initiate a national faba bean campaign for the coming season, involving around 180 demonstrates on 370 fields across 19 governorates. Half the demonstrations will involve faba bean production and the other half will involve intercropping with faba beans – a proven means of fixing nitrogen in soil and improving fertility.