Image showing Lupin sellers from Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
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Ethiopian Lupins for Food and Feed

Developing sweet (low alkaloid) white lupins for Ethiopia.

Project details

Project Leader: 
People: 
Funded By: 
Innovate UK

Objectives and outputs

Objectives and Outputs

The Ethiopian Lupins for Food & Feed (ELFF) project aims to improve livelihoods for Ethiopian smallholder farmers by: 

  • Improving supplies of high quality protein for animal feed
  • Providing a potential cash crop for human consumption 
  • Improving soil fertility and thus crop productivity. 

This innovative project will explore the feasibility of a white lupin breeding programme to combine traits from Ethiopian and UK varieties, producing lines that benefit Ethiopian farmers in the first instance but also lines benefiting agriculture in many other countries. Ethiopian agriculture relies heavily on livestock but lack of affordable protein sources means that livestock is not reaching its full value. Developing sweet white lupins for grain and forage could revolutionise smallholder agriculture in many parts of Ethiopia. The project is assess Ethiopian landrace varieties to identify promising lines for improvement, and to identify markers and genes that confer low alkaloid production. These loci can be used in a subsequent targeted and marker-assisted breeding programme. The project is conducting a feasibility study for a full-scale breeding programme based on the ELFF project, develop a comprehensive business strategy for novel varieties in Ethiopia and also for possible introduction of lupins into the surrounding African countries.

The main role of Kew Science researchers is to:

  • Identify the gene conferring low alkaloids
  • Understand genetic diversity in Ethiopian landraces relative to global species diversity
  • Identify suitable founder lines for a future lupin breeding programme in Ethiopia.

Partners and collaborators

Ethiopian partner: 

  • Dr Likawent Yeheyis, Amhara Regional Agricultural Research Institute, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

UK partners: 

Further information

Kew Science blog: Lupins: bitter plants with a sweet after-taste

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