Overcoming chronic malnutrition in a future warming world: the key importance of mungbean and vegetable soybean

Abstract

Malnutrition or ‘hidden hunger’ severely stunts human potential due to imbalanced diets and a lack of vital vitamins and minerals. Hunger and obesity are its extremes. Hardy, multipurpose legumes that can be used as vegetables or grains by smallholders or large enterprises and with multiple manufacturing uses have a vital role to play in overcoming growing malnutrition in South Asia, Africa, and the Pacific. Population growth over the next 40 years will require a doubling of food production in developing countries and climate change will make achieving this goal more uncertain. Mungbean (Vigna radiata (L.) Wilzcek) and vegetable soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merrill) can be consumed as highly nutritious vegetables or grains and are well suited to smallholder production under adverse climatic conditions. Both are well established in intensive cropping systems in Asia, but are little known elsewhere. Recent collaborative plant breeding efforts in Asia produced high yielding, disease-resistant mungbean varieties that mature synchronously in 60–65 days. This revolutionized the industry, allowing the crop to be added to smallholder rice/wheat rotations and leading to a major increase in global production Vegetable soybeans are larger and more nutritious than grain soybeans, but constitute less than 2% of global soybean production. Well known as fresh vegetables in East Asia, they are highly suited to smallholder agriculture or home gardens, producing among the highest yields of crop protein per unit area. More promotion and minor adaptive research can make these regional successes more widely available to help overcome malnutrition.

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Correspondence to J. D. H. Keatinge.

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Keatinge, J.D.H., Easdown, W.J., Yang, R.Y. et al. Overcoming chronic malnutrition in a future warming world: the key importance of mungbean and vegetable soybean. Euphytica 180, 129–141 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10681-011-0401-6

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Keywords

  • Mungbean
  • Vegetable soybean
  • Malnutrition
  • Smallholder