Prof. O. F. Owolade
Prof. O. F. Owolade

The Grain Legumes Improvement Programme (GLIP) is one of the seven research programmes of the Institute; established in 1975 with the zonal mandate to carry out genetic improvement of some major legumes (cowpea, soya bean, winged bean, African yam bean, pegion pea and lima bean) in the southwest agro-ecological zones (high rain forest, transition forest, southern savanna and derived savanna). This is in addition to developing sustainable production technologies for legumes in the South[BM1]  West agro[BM2]  ecologies through multidisciplinary, participatory and collaborative efforts.  Grain legumes are the most economically and nutritionally important African protein sources with the seed yield still low (less than 1 ton per hectare),  yield loss of between 46-80% due to severe insect pest, disease and weed infestations as well as non-availability of tolerant or resistant cowpea[BM3]  varieties adaptable to the ecology. In addition to the aforementioned factors, lack of knowledge of good agronomic practices, scarcity of viable seeds for planting  and discouraging marginal returns to farmers further worsen the limitations of grain legumes

It is therefore impossible to economically cultivate cowpea in these zones without the  application of hazardous pesticides (in most cases indiscriminately applied) which  causeses   high levels of pesticide residue in the grains and fodder from the crop as well as leading to high cost of production of cowpea.

Cultivar development and improvement, innovative agronomic technologies coupled with sustainable integrated pest management are the antidotes to the challenges of cowpea production for enhanced income as well as food security in the South[BM4]  forest agro-ecologies. Therefore the need to develop insect and disease[BM5]  tolerant/resistant varieties and sustainable and economically viable technologies for improved productivity. This is imperative because of  high levels of rainfall and humidity which has made the  brown blotch disease endemic as well as high resurgence of  complexes of insect pests and weed infestation.

Soya bean is one of the most valuable crops in the world because it is a good source of vegetable  oil and dietary protein. With the rising interest in healthy  lifestyle, the demand for soya bean products in Nigeria is on the increase. However, the availability of such products in the Nigerian market is limited due to the [BM6]  along  the soya bean value chain from availability of improved viable seeds and production practices to improved processing and utilisation technologies. Other challenges are pests, diseases and unavailability of sufficient improved genotypes. Henc, the  need to bridge the gaps along soya bean value chain for the Nigerian population.

Lima bean (Phaseoluslunatus) is one of the underutilised legumes in Nigeria which has potential to address both food and nutritional security. It is a nutritious plant containing about 23% protein and 6% fibre. It has the ability to improve soil fertility and it is well adapted to the humid rainforest environment of southern Nigeria. However, its production  has almost gone into extinction amd as such,  its level of utilisation is very low. This ia due to its  unavailability  in the market and and also the fact that it takes long to cook.  bring Lima beans can however be reincorporated  into the cropping system of southwest, Nigeria so as  to facilitate its inclusion in  the diets of the rural populace, hence the project.

Pigeon pea is a leguminous crop that is often grown as hedges int residential areas  or as a cover crop in rural communities, thus  it is highly underutilised as food for humans.  The seed is high in protein[BM7]  and can be an alternative to cowpea preparing various meals. ,  However, the crop has received little research attention in Nigeria in terms of crop improvement and utilisation, thus only low[BM8]  yielding landraces are   cultivated by the farmers. Holistic research into  all the aspects of the crop will unleash  the potentials , increase food alternatives and reduce food insecurity. Winged bean, a wonder legume,  is a valuable source of protein, vitamins and minerals and occupies  an important place in human nutrition. I It is  a multipurpose crop and  therefore considered as a versatile legume. Winged bean can readily serve as a  substitute for  soya bean. Research into this crop will provide  vital information on the yield potential and would also profer ways of genetically improving it. The programme has experienced and competent scientists from various disciplines including Plant Breeding, Plant Protection, Soil Microbiology, Agricultural Extension and Economics and Food Science.