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Projects and R & D products

Faba Bean Initiative has several ongoing projects that seek to promote and diversify the use of faba bean both in human and animals. We are working to help faba bean recover the ground lost to other legume such as soybean that are not traditional components of our Mediterranean diet.

Through R&D in agrifood, we strive to develop new varieties resistant to diseases and pests, which are more attractive and healthier for the consumer.

Pathogen resistance

The incidence of certain pests/diseases and unstable yields have been the major drawbacks for this crop. Broomrape (Orobanche crenata) is the most limiting disease in many Andalusian areas. This parasitic weed produces up to 500,000 seeds per plant, and none of the current control measures is fully effective., The development of resistant varieties is the most economically efficient and environmentally friendly strategy for the future.

Fungal diseases such as Ascochyta blight, chocolate spot (Botrytis fabae) and rust (Uromyces viciae-fabae) also cause yield reductions that depend on the growth region and environmental conditions.

The work accomplished over the last 20 years by the legume research team at IFAPA has produced a number of highly productive varieties and advanced lines resistant to these pathogens and well adapted to our environmental conditions.

Quality characteristics

Spain is the European country that consumes most faba beans. The "major" types (Aguadulce type, Muchamiel, etc..) are preferred for human consumption while the "equina" types are traditionally used for animal feed. Due to its high content of protein and phosphorus, they are a good complement to cereals. The palatability and excellent results in ruminants and cattle make faba beans and other traditional legumes valuable crops for feed industry, livestock production.

Faba beans contain certain antinutritrional elements like tannins and vicine-convicine, which decrease the digestibility of the protein and need to be eliminated through specific breeding programs. Tannins are present in varieties with colored flowers (60%) but lacking from those with white flowers (0.06%).

High levels of vicine-convicine can cause hemolytic anemia (favism) in humans and also affects egg quality and hatching ability in poultry farms. Both problems have already been solved by IFAPA researchers who obtained varieties with white flowers and no tannins. In addition, we identified plants free of vicine-convicine that are being used to develop new varieties free of these compounds.

We aim to promote and revitalize faba bean crops, generating new accessions for:

Human consumption: soft (tender) faba bean for freezing and canning, tannin and vicine-convicine free, improved taste (Brix degrees), highly productive varieties and resistance to the most common diseases.

Animal feeds: equina type faba bean resistant to broomrape and free of tannins and vicine-convicine.