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Yam bean a nearly forgotten crop
Date:9/22/2007

MADISON, WI, JULY 18, 2007 The Yam bean originated where the Andes meet the Amazon and is locally grown in South and Central America, South Asia, East Asia and the Pacific. It is produced in three species which are called the Amazonian, Mexican and Andean. Interbreeding of the bean has resulted in fertile and stable hybrids. This gives it potential to be reclassified as a single species, provide high quality food production and offer a sustainable cropping system that has been needed in Africa.

Researchers believe they have discovered a protein-rich starch staple in the yam bean in Peru. They were previously considered a root vegetable due to the high water content; however this Chuin type has lower water content. Families living in the area have been producing it as flour. The crop has extremely high seed production, but its seeds contain high concentrations of rotenone. This toxic compound has been used for reducing fish populations and parasitic mites on poultry. Seeds are never consumed since they are mildly toxic to humans and other mammals. If the rotenone was removed from the seeds, they could provide a strong protein source as well as seed oil profitable in the food industry.

Sraphin Zanklan, a scientist at Centre Songhai in Porto-Novo (Benin), has investigated the yam bean for its potential to grow and produce food under West African conditions. The study was funded by a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Thirty-four yam genotypes were grown with and without flower removal at one droughty location and one irrigated location. Of the 33 traits that were measured, nearly all showed large genetic variation. This and the easy spreading of its seeds, make the crops very desirable to breeders. Results from the study will be published in the July-August 2007 issue of Crop Science.

The study identified genotypes with high storage root production. Flower removal increased storage root productio
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Contact: Sara Uttech
suttech@agronomy.org
608-268-4948
American Society of Agronomy
Source:Eurekalert

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