Explore the utilization and nutrition of mungbean [Vigna radiata] for human consumption to promote in Senegal and Virginia
With a rapidly growing world population and increased threats of climate change, Sub-Saharan Africa is most at risk for lower crop yields and facing hunger. Within Sub-Saharan Africa, Senegal has some of the highest levels of anemia and micronutrient deficiencies among women and children. Mungbean [Vigna radiata (L.) R. Wilczek] is a pulse crop that has recently been successfully introduced in Senegal to diversify a primarily cereal-based diet consisting of millet, maize, and rice. The potential for mungbean to be harvested as a leafy green as well as a pulse could allow for a more balanced and nutrient-rich diet. This diversification could help combat micronutrient deficiencies while earlier harvest of the leaves could help alleviate the pressures of the "hunger season." To understand the effects of leaf harvest on mungbean grain yield, yield components, and nutrition, a field trial was conducted in Blacksburg, Virginia for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022. In a split-plot design, four frequencies of leaf harvest (0x, 1x, 2x, and 3x) on seven accessions of mungbean were tested in triplicate. The objective of this experiment was to determine if mungbean can be used as a dual-purpose crop as a leafy green vegetable without decreasing grain yield in Senegal. It was found that mungbeans could undergo up to two leaf harvest of immature leaves without reducing yield, total dry matter (TDM), or yield components. The harvested leaves were also found to be highly nutritious with 22.0% protein, 12.3% fiber and 8.5% ash with no significant differences between leaf harvest treatments. These results indicate that mungbean can be used as a dual-purpose crop for harvest as leafy greens and pulse in Senegal.
Further, mungbeans were studied as a viable crop in southside Virginia. The objective was to evaluate the efficacy of mungbeans as an alternative crop to tobacco farmers in Virginia. Field trials were conducted on farmers' fields and at Virginia Tech's Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Center in 2021 and 2022. A split-plot experimental design was used with early and late planting dates in the beginning and end of June as the whole plots and two commercially-available cultivars, Berken and OK 2000, as the sub-plots. Due to highly variable rain patterns in 2021 and 2022, as well as differing management practices, there were no consistent effects of genotype or planting date on yield, plant height, pods per plant, seeds per pod, or seed size. Yield ranged from 0.19 MT ha-1 to 1.18 MT ha-1 with an average yield of 0.84 MT ha-1 in 2021 and 0.38 MT ha-1 in 2022. Though there was variation in yield, across planting dates, cultivars, locations, and years, the highest yield was higher than global averages. It was concluded that while there is great potential with the growing mungbean market, more studies of breeding and supply chain issues and development of a production guide are needed for mungbean to be successful in Virginia. A final study compared soybean, edamame, and mungbean nutritional components and volatiles, two characteristics of importance to breeding objectives and food processing regarding plant alternative proteins. It was found that mungbean had significantly less protein (21.1%) than soy (36.2%) and edamame (38.3%). Mungbean also had lower fat (0.769%) compared to soy (13.5%) and edamame (14.0%). Analysis of aromatic compounds revealed that soybean, edamame, and mungbean each had unique profiles that could be advantageous to the production of specific plant protein foods. Overall, these studies demonstrate the growing importance and potential of mungbean in both Senegal and in the United States.