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Mainstreaming Efficient Legume Seed Systems in Eastern Africa

Challenges, Opportunities and Contributions towards Improved Livelihoods

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Legumes are important components of sustainable farming systems. They are useful to diversify and intensify cropping systems; fix atmospheric nitrogen and improve soil health; act as rotation crops; increase and diversify smallholder incomes; and lower the carbon footprint, mitigating climate change. Legumes can therefore play a critical role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. However, as this publication points out, their production is challenged by various policy, regulatory, institutional and technical factors, including a lack of attention from the public sector and limited opportunity to attract private sector investment.

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Executive summary

Legumes are important components of sustainable farming systems. They are useful to diversify and intensify cropping systems as double, catch, relay and intercrops; fix ‘free’ nitrogen to soils from the atmosphere and improve soil health that boost cereal crop yields; act as rotation crops for breaking disease and pest cycles; increase and diversify smallholder incomes (and hence buffer them from the effects of price, pest and climate-related production fluctuations); enhance quality of household diets because of their higher protein and micro-nutrient content compared with starch-based staple cereal crops; and provide good sources of animal feed (high protein crop residues and byproducts) and low carbon footprint, mitigating climate change.

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