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  • Final Report Summary - BAMLINK (Molecular, environmental and nutritional evaluation of Bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea L.Verdc.) for food production in semi-arid Africa and India)

Final Report Summary - BAMLINK (Molecular, environmental and nutritional evaluation of Bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea L.Verdc.) for food production in semi-arid Africa and India)

The ultimate aim of the BAMLINK project was to evaluate the nutritional, ecophysiological and molecular characteristics of Bambara groundnut landraces.

Central to the work programme was the dissection of the underlying genetics of the crop and its evaluation across a range of environments for traits relating to abiotic factors that currently limit productivity, geographic range and farmer and consumer uptake. Collaborators would identify genes and Quantitative trait locus (QTLs) for drought, heat and cold tolerance and photoperiodic control of podding and would link genetic and biochemical composition of seeds to quantify nutritional composition, nutritive value and processing potential of genotypes. The development of molecular markers and genetic maps for bambara groundnut, would be coupled with agronomic and physiological assessment across locations. Gaining an understanding of the genetic basis of these traits and the development and dissemination of tools for their exploitation would provide the foundation for subsequent focused breeding efforts in bambara groundnut. At all stages, end-users would guide researchers toward desirable traits.

BAMLINK attracted the interest of researchers, policy makers and the media who recognised that it as a role model for other underutilised species.

BAMLINK set the following priorities:

In 2008, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) released the global AQUACROP model with Bambara groundnut as the only underutilised species. AQUACROP workshops were held internationally that promoted BAMLINK activities and increased its impact. It was agreed that the BAMLINK team would develop BAMGRO within the AQUACROP suite of models to facilitate wider dissemination of project activities.

B. Bambara groundnut improvement programme (BAMBREED)
An international improvement programme was developed with partners in Africa and Asia. Ongoing activities between GBR and partners in Indonesia identified key genetic material and breeding strategies with BAMLINK partners in Africa. It was agreed that further development of the BAMBREED proposal would be encouraged through existing links within BAMLINK partners with Indonesia.

L The development of a functional delivery system was a key to translating nearly two decades of research into Bambara groundnut funded by the European Union (EU) into improved varieties in the farmer's field.

It was agreed that the project team would contribute to a major conference 'Crops for the future: beyond food security' that was hosted by United Kingdom.

In 2008 the CCF centre was launched in Malaysia with a global mandate for investigations on promising underutilised food and non-food crops not currently supported by the international agricultural research network. BAMLINK was recognised as a role model for how CFF could investigate other underutilised crops through its global mandate. The research work supported by the EU over the last 18 years allowed to develop a methodology to evaluate new potential crop plans and this would be the essence of the research work for 'Crops for the future'.

Without the consistent and long-term support of EU to Nottingham and partners on Bambara groundnut, the Nottingham University would not have been in a position to win the co-hosting of 'Crops for the future' or have been able to persuade the Malaysian government to make the significant and public commitment of the 'Crop for the future' research centre. For the first time, there were dedicated international bodies for the promotion and the research into underutilised crops.

BAMLINK generated new data in four areas, namely:
- Activity 1: Molecular characterisation;
- Activity 2: Ecophysiological interactions (drought, heat, cold and photoperiod);
- Activity 3: Nutritional / functional evaluation)
- Activity 4: End-user benchmarking.

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