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Sustainability 2017, 9(1), 60; doi:10.3390/su9010060

Expounding the Value of Grain Legumes in the Semi- and Arid Tropics

Crop Science, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, 3201 Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
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Received: 7 August 2016 / Accepted: 24 December 2016 / Published: 1 January 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Wildlife)
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Abstract

Approximately 70% of the population in the semi- and arid tropics reside in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Crop production is primarily focused on a few starchy staple crops. While this can ensure adequate calories, it inadvertently neglects the need for dietary diversity. Consequently, food and nutritional insecurity remains prevalent in the semi- and arid tropics. We reviewed the legume value chain with the aim to identify opportunities and challenges to unlocking their value and promoting them in the tropics. Several grain legumes are rich in proteins and micronutrients. They also possess adaptability to marginal environmental conditions such as drought and low input systems which typify rural landscapes. Adaptability to abiotic stresses such as drought makes them key to agriculture in areas that will receive less rainfall in the future. However, this potential was currently not being realized due to a range of challenges. Aspects related to their seed systems, production, post-harvest handling and marketing remain relatively under-researched. This was especially true for minor legumes. There is a need for trans-disciplinary research which will address the entire value chain, as has been done for major starchy crops. This could also unlock significant economic opportunities for marginalized groups such as women. This will unlock their value and allow them to contribute meaningfully to food and nutrition security as well as sustainable and resilient cropping systems. View Full-Text
Keywords: food and nutritional insecurity; South Asia; sub-Saharan Africa; value chain; water scarcity food and nutritional insecurity; South Asia; sub-Saharan Africa; value chain; water scarcity
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Chibarabada, T.P.; Modi, A.T.; Mabhaudhi, T. Expounding the Value of Grain Legumes in the Semi- and Arid Tropics. Sustainability 2017, 9, 60.

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