Beans can be grown from sea level to over 3,000 meters in a variety of climates and soils; some take only two months from sowing to harvest, while others can take several years before producing grains. They are commonly intercropped with other crops in traditional farming systems.
Often referred to as “the meat of the poor,” beans provide a crucial and environmentally sustainable source of protein and micronutrients as well as income for millions of people, particularly in Africa and Latin America. Through bio-fortification, CIAT and partners have increased the iron and zinc content of beans to reduce malnutrition. Scientists are working to combine nutritious traits with climate-resilience, as research shows that breeding beans for heat tolerance could improve the suitability of 7.2 million hectares of farmland for bean cultivation in a changing climate.
Countries of origin
Bean germplasm distributed since 1973
37,390 accessions (441,225 samples) distributed to 105 countries
Genebanks are vulnerable to many risks, ranging from natural disasters or war to funding shortfalls. Something as mundane as an undetected breakdown of a seed vault can affect an entire collection. The loss of a crop collection would be as irreversible as the extinction of the dinosaurs. That’s why CIAT is producing and shipping duplicates (backups) of the entire bean collection to two off-site storage facilities, one at the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard on a remote island halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, and another one at CIMMYT, our partner CGIAR Center in Mexico.
of bean collection backed-up in Svalbard
of bean collection backed-up at CIMMYT
By crossing common bean varieties with terpary bean accessions adapted to dry climates, CIAT scientists have developed ‘heat-beater’ beans that can tolerate up to 3°C higher temperatures. This is a major contribution towards climate-proofing bean production in Africa and Latin America.