U of I Will Lead Soybean Research Consortium

A $25 million federal grant will aid research to help improve soybean yields in five African countries.

Published on: Nov 4, 2013

Poultry in these sub-Saharan regions are typically fed non-nutritious grain waste and the chickens consequently have very slow growth, which in turns provides low returns to farmers. A second phase of the project would focus research on poultry nutrition so that producers can raise healthier chickens and provide an opportunity to scale up their poultry operation. For example, Goldsmith said that one option might be the use of small-scale extruders, working like a local grist mill where small farmers can bring their soy to have it processed and blended with maize and micronutrients for chicken feed.

The University of Illinois' National Soybean Research Laboratory has been a global leader in the use of soy for human nutrition in developing countries. "There are already established traditions for starchy foods such as cassava, rice, and maize, as well as for native legumes such as cowpea and chickpea," Goldsmith says. "People know how to grow and cook with the native legumes, but the productivity, versatility, and quality and levels of protein are low when compared to soy.

U of I's Brian Diers and Randy Nelson will lead the breeding portion of the research. Dan Reynolds at Mississippi State will develop and lead the regions first soybean field station to provide much needed agronomic research.

Kathleen Ragsdale and Lindsey Peterson, also of Mississippi State will head up the project's research into the impact of soybean on gender equity.

Jill Findeis and Kristin Bilyeu of the University of Missouri will lead, respectively, the economic and grain quality research areas. Craig Gundersen and Bridget Owen of the National Soybean Research Laboratory will lead the human nutrition effort.

Rita Mumm of the University of Illinois will lead the breeder training and education component and Jeremy Guest also of the University of Illinois will lead the research program on environmental impacts of soybean. The research relies on key partnerships with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, Catholic Relief Services, Technoserve, and the International Fertilizer Development Council.

Mike Lacy of the University of Georgia will lead the livestock nutrition program, and the partnership will also feature the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, and Delaware State University as additional key partners.

"This research-for-development design will provide the research foundation that can readily be adopted by the development community to boost soybean production and improve the nutrition and market linkages for small holder farmers, which in turn will raise incomes, increase food security, and improve household nutrition," says Robert Hauser, dean of the College of ACES at the University of Illinois.

Source: University of Illinois