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Stress Tolerant Orphan Legumes (STOL)

Main Focus

This Trust programme focuses on legumes that are heat and drought tolerant, as may be needed to provide a resilient response to a changing climate. A number of food legumes are grown in arid regions, often on marginal land unsuitable for major crop species. Most are neglected by the major funding agencies. The Trust is exploring the following crops because of their heat and drought tolerant qualities, nutritional value and use by subsistence farmers: horsegram (Macrotyloma uniflorum); moth bean (Vigna aconitifolia); Dolichos (Lablab purpureus); marama bean (Tylosema esculentum); rice bean (Vigna umbellata); bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea); tepary bean (Phaseolus acutifolius); pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan); lima bean (Phaseolus lunatus); mung bean (Vigna radiata), and cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) and common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) as check crops.

The Trust’s research goals are to evaluate:
  • the potential benefits of these crops in hotter, drier climates,
  • existing germplasm collections and their accessibility,
  • the need to conserve the crop diversity, and
  • the need for genetic improvement
The intention of the STOL programme is to multiply between fifty and one hundred accessions of each of the crops listed above before providing them to trial sites throughout the hot, dry regions of Africa and India. The field trials in multiple hot / dry locations will then determine which crops have potential to combat the effects of climate change, to provide sources of food, animal feed and to stabilise land against degradation.

A major barrier to project progress is obtaining germplasm from India which can be exported to Africa. An MoU and Agreement between an Indian Government agency – ICAR – and the Kirkhouse Trust is currently being negotiated. However, early multiplication work is underway in Namibia, Tanzania and Burkina Faso.


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NM-AIST, Arusha, Tanzania

"Multiplication of orphan legumes".
PI: Professor Patrick A. Ndakidemi.

The project is multiplying STOL crop accessions at a field site in Moshi, Tanzania for distribution to other researchers working within the STOL programme.

NUST, Winhoek, Namibia

"Multiplication of marama bean (Tyosema esculentum) for the STOL programme".
PI: Dr Percy Chimwamurombe.

The project is multiplying marama bean (Tyosema esculentum) accessions for distribution to other researchers working within the STOL programme.
Marama bean requires at least two-three years for it to reach maturity under optimum conditions. Therefore, this multiplication work has begun earlier than other projects.

INERA, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

"Agro-morphological characterisation of drought tolerant legume species and study of genotypes by environment interactions in Burkina Faso".
PhD Student: Felicien Zida.

The Trust is funding a student PhD project at INERA, Burkina Faso, with the intention of it eventually being encapsulated under a research / multiplication project. Accessions of each of the STOL crops will be collected, multiplied and then put forward for field trails in Burkina Faso (as well as other hot / dry regions in Africa and India).

Other Projects

The Trust continues to support a breeding programme on Dolichos (LLablab purpureus) under Dr M. Byre Gowda at UAS, Bangalore, India. The project is focused on the development of determinate, photoperiod insensitive types, pioneered by the recent release of the variety "HA4". The release of a further two new lines is imminent. In support of this activity, a seed storage facility and greenhouse has been constructed. In association with the breeding programme, the Trust also supports the molecular work within the project. This aims to develop a genetic map of Dolichos (Lablab purpureus).