The mighty mung beans generate a triple benefit for smallholder farmers — additional income, affordable nutrient-rich food, and increased soil fertility. They’re also low maintenance, have minimal production costs, and a short growing time. It’s no surprise that they’re a popular crop, with more than 750,000 farmers in Indonesia planting these green beans annually. A staple in meals across the region and used in both sweet and savoury dishes, the mung bean has potential, both for farmers and their families.
Despite being a favourite for farmers, mung bean productivity is low. This is largely due to a lack of high-yielding seed varieties and poor farming techniques. Farmers rely on retained seeds, or seeds that they harvest from their own crops, which have lower yields than certified seeds.
Buyers also lack experience sourcing mung bean locally since they mainly procure imported mung beans.
In 2014, the government-owned legume research institute Balitkabi was already releasing a new series of high-yielding, improved mung bean varieties. However, seed producers were not aware of its availability or potential.
Seeing an opportunity to promote and commercialise these new varieties, PRISMA (a partnership between the Indonesian and Australian Governments to build inclusive agriculture markets) supported Balitkabi with a market study and convinced the institute to make several parent seed varieties available to seed companies.
In tandem, PRISMA worked with a multi-national vegetable seed company and two local nurseries to see the benefits of the market potential for high-yielding certified mung bean seed and connected these companies with Balitkabi. Within a very short period (from 2018 to today) 13% of the mung bean market is now using certified high-yielding seeds instead of retained seeds.
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