By Lesole Sefume
Department of Agric Research - Lesotho
Beans provide a protein supplement in Lesotho because they are cheap, easy to cook and can be afforded by many people. The beans have been grown in Lesotho for decades but yields have been declining because of factors such as low rainfall during planting time and shoot development stage, this low rainfall results in less availability of plant nutrients and biomass yield. Beans (and other food grain legumes) are high in total protein, 20-25% and thus serve to balance the human diets based on cereal grains and other starchy crops. They serve as a substitute or as an extender of the scarce animal and fish protein. Although the bean protein is somewhat deficient in sulfur containing amino acid, the protein is rich in lysine and tryptophan that are deficient in cereals. Beans also contain about 2% fat, and about 50% carbohydrate thus making them a nutritious food. The biofortified bean contains more than 40% Zinc and Iron, as the new improved bean varieties. 
Biofortification is the process of increasing the nutritional value of crops and plants through breeding. The crops produced through biofortification methods are always rich in nutrients like Zinc, Iron and Vitamin A. Usually when plants are produced through traditional breeding, they have the nutrients which are present in them naturally, but plants of biofortification are very rich in nutrients value. Before the arrival of technique, it was difficult for the farmers to buy transgenic seeds, but now they can produce plants full of nutrients. These nutrients can be helpful in reducing the disease rate in human. These beans are produced through traditional plant breeding, in this type of breeding, seeds are selected which are the source of producing crops rich in nutrients. Such seeds are bred with those varieties which are responsible for giving high yield of crops. The result will be the production of crops with high yield and highly rich in nutrients. The Biofortification Challenge Program will focus on improving the nutritional content of the staple foods poor people already eat, providing a comparatively inexpensive, cost-effective, sustainable, long-term means of delivering micronutrients to the poor. This approach will not only lower the number of severely malnourished people who require treatment by complementary interventions, but also will help maintain an improved nutritional status. Moreover, biofortification provides a feasible means of reaching malnourished populations, especially in rural areas, with limited access to supplements or commercially marketed fortified foods.
Poor consumers in developing countries acquire roughly one-half of their total iron intake (and a higher percentage of zinc intake) from staple foods. Results from germplasm screening suggest that the iron and zinc content of staple foods can be doubled through conventional breeding. This result, in turn, implies that iron and zinc intakes in poor people’s diets can be increased by 50 percent. This should result in an appreciable improvement in nutrition and health even for those whose intakes remain below recommended daily intakes.
Eliminating micronutrient malnutrition in any one country will require bringing to bear an array of interventions including supplementation, commercial fortification, and greater dietary diversity through nutrition education and higher incomes.
Ø Screening of promising micronutrient genotypes and study interaction between genotypes and environment
Ø To test the adaptability of several micronutrients together with yield in a single variety
Ø Dissemination of nutritionally improved varieties through collaboration with farmers
The biofort bean seeds were supplied by CIAT from Malawi. The study was conducted over three consecutive years in Maseru main station. They were eight varieties which were planted in lines. One line representing the plot. They were evaluated for different attributes in single row plots of 5m long for yield, maturity time, adaptability and other constraints in Maseru main station, Leribe regional station, Machache sub-station and Matsieng sub-station and on-farm trials with three farmers in Maqhaka (Berea) under rain fed conditions. Commercial fertilizer of 2:3:2 (22) were used at the rate of 300 kg/ha.
The biofort beans were able to reach physiological maturity within 100 days and were harvested in 120 days. In 2008/9 growing season planting was done on the 28th November 2008 and 2009/10 growing season planting was done on the 26th October 2009. Biofort beans are bush and determinate and most of the crop ripens at one time. Table 1 below shows performance of biofort fast track beans over two growing seasons, and five varieties gave high yield on consecutive growing seasons. They were stable and can be used as new varieties. (NUA 35, NUA 45, NUA 4, NUA 30 and NUA 50)   


NUA 35
NUA 45
NUA 43
NUA 30
NUA 50
CAL 96
NUA 56
On-farm trials were conducted in Maqhaka in Berea district with Women Farmers Association. Three varieties were given to four farmers within the Association.  The varieties were NUA 45, NUA 35 and CAL 143. Each variety was planted over the area of 20 M².  The compound fertilizer 2:3:2 (22) were used, at the rate of 4 bags (50 kg) per hectare.
Yields were measured in kilograms per plot of 20 m².
NUA 45 = 6kg
NUA 35 = 3kg
CAL 143 = 5kg
Yield in kilograms per hectare
NUA 45 = 3000kg/ha
NUA 35 = 1500kg/ha
CAL 143 = 2500kg/ha
The process was used to increase the nutritional value of field beans through breeding. The Department of Agricultural Research have over three previous years tested the yield potential and the nutritive value of biofortified beans and came up with three varieties NUA 45, NUA 35 and NUA 50, which have high level of the two trace elements which are zinc and iron. These beans were produced through traditional plant breeding, in this type of breeding, seeds were selected which were the source of producing crops rich in nutrients. Such seeds were bred with those varieties which are responsible for giving high yield of crops. The result will be the production of crops with high yield and highly rich in nutrients.
Yield ranges from 2000– 2400 kg/ha in Highland, 2900– 3500 in Lowland.
 - Grain type– Red mottled ( Calima beans )
 - Takes 90 days to reach physiological maturity.
 - Large seeded beans, kidney shaped seed (55g/ 100 seeds)
 - Fits well in crop rotation system as relay crop
 - Cultivation ranges from small beds in garden to large plots in the field.
 - Potentially attractive for markets.
IN NUTRITION; could be highly beneficial for;
 - Food relief program for household.
 - Feeding schemes at schools and hospitals
 - Reducing anemia in pregnant women.
 - For people living with HIV/AIDS
Biofortified bean brochure