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Rice bean: A healthy and cost-effective alternative for crop and food diversity

Abstract

Rice bean (Vigna umbellata), an underutilized grain legume or pulse, is often considered a minor crop in Nepal and Northern India. Rice bean is attracting attention worldwide owing to its high yielding ability, resistance to viral, fungal and bacterial diseases, adaptability to grow in less-fertile lands, simple domestic processing and good nutritional potential, which help to make it an affordable substitute for conventional pulses. However, the presence of some anti-nutritional factors such as phenols, saponins, phytic acid, and enzyme inhibitors limit its usage, but simple domestic processing methods such as sprouting, pressure cooking and fermentation can alleviate these problems and enhance its nutritional adequacy. Rice bean can be cultivated in a range of soils to produce high quality grain as well as highly nutritious fodder for livestock, and thus a synergistic effect can be achieved for both human and animal nutrition. Although a multipurpose crop, little has been done to assess its field diversity, to develop high yielding varieties, or to tap its potential in terms of commercial importance and market value. Further research and promotion of rice bean could play a significant role in a diversified sustainable approach to alleviate the global problem of protein and energy malnutrition.

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Dhillon, P.K., Tanwar, B. Rice bean: A healthy and cost-effective alternative for crop and food diversity. Food Sec. 10, 525–535 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12571-018-0803-6

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Keywords

  • Rice bean
  • Vigna umbellata
  • Domestic processing
  • Nutritive value
  • Food security
  • Nutritional security