Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Legume Systems Research is uniting researchers from universities around the United States with international collaborators to improve nutrition, resilience, sustainability and economic opportunities for legume farmers, especially women and youth, initially focusing on West Africa and Central America.

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Legume Systems Research (Legume Systems Innovation Lab), led by Michigan State University (MSU), will strengthen grain legume production and marketing systems and enrich the capacity of agricultural research in West Africa and Central America to meet needs of farmers for systems that are resilient, sustainable, and generate growth.

“MSU has over three decades of leadership in previous programs involving global legume research efforts,” said Barry Pittendrigh, Legume Systems Innovation Lab director and MSU Foundation Professor in the MSU Department of Entomology. “We are taking a highly multidisciplinary approach to solve the problems legume farmers and others face in the developing world and partnering with researchers who are using the most cutting-edge, innovative ideas and techniques to address these challenges.”

Among the Legume Systems Innovation Lab's aims are to increase common bean production and consumption in the Guatemalan Highlands, where growth-stunting rates due to malnutrition are very high, and improving production systems with legumes across West Africa, where countries have some of the lowest human development indices in the world. Researchers will also investigate the potential of novel crops such as tree legumes, pigeon peas and other legume species to improve the genetic diversity, drought tolerance and pest resistance of legume farming systems while also presenting new income through marketing. Engaging young scientists and building greater institutional capacity is also a priority for the Lab.

Areas of inquiry

  1. Integration of legumes into sustainable smallholder farming systems and agricultural landscapes
  2. Integration of legumes within local and regional market systems
  3. Analysis of sociocultural and/or economic motivators or barriers to legume utilization at various stages and scales within production and market systems

Of particular interest to the Lab are research opportunities that address the unique needs of women and youth, ensure greater resilience of people and systems under stress and shocks, and contribute to the development of human and institutional capacity for a sustainable agricultural innovation system.

Systems research will entail looking at new opportunities to incorporate legume tree species and lesser known legumes into the cropping systems of smallholders, to improve productivity and to enhance resilience to drought, pests and diseases, and other threats.

Please visit our website at https://www.canr.msu.edu/legumelab/ for more information.

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