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HIB varieties Biofortified Beans for Improved Nutrition

Fueling Health with Iron-Rich Beans

The "Biofortified Beans for Improved Nutrition" technology addresses critical nutritional challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa, primarily iron and zinc deficiencies. Through the process of biofortification, it develops high-iron bean varieties that enhance their nutritional value. These "High-Iron Beans (HIB)" are the result of crossbreeding local elite lines with American bean varieties naturally enriched in iron. HIB varieties are characterized by high productivity, drought and disease tolerance, preferred culinary traits, and rapid cooking. This technology has resulted in the release of 31 high-yielding HIB varieties in key production areas across Sub-Saharan Africa, contributing to enhanced food security and nutrition in the region.

This technology is TAAT1 validated.


Scaling readiness: idea maturity 8/9; level of use 7/9


Open source / open access


  • Poor nutrition, particularly iron and zinc deficiencies, is a significant issue in Sub-Saharan Africa. Iron deficiency leads to anemia, cognitive issues, maternal health risks, and low birth weight, while zinc deficiency weakens the immune system and results in stunting.

  • Traditional approaches to addressing nutritional deficiencies involve costly supplemental fortification methods.

  • Common bean varieties often lack sufficient iron and zinc to meet nutritional needs, posing a challenge to improving nutrition.


  • The technology involves developing and promoting biofortified bean varieties, which are enriched in dietary iron and zinc, offering a solution to nutritional deficiencies.

  • Biofortification is used to increase the concentration of iron and zinc in beans through conventional breeding, good agronomic practices, or biotechnological modification, avoiding the high costs associated with traditional fortification methods.

  • A series of recently released high-iron bean (HIB) varieties have been developed through crossbreeding and participatory breeding strategies. These HIB varieties offer higher iron and zinc content, improved yield potential, drought and disease tolerance, desirable culinary characteristics, and suitability for diverse agro-ecological zones.

  • The greater productivity, nutritional value, and commercial value of HIB varieties enable small-scale farmers to allocate more resources to bean cultivation, making it a primary agricultural enterprise and source of income.

  • Consumption of HIB varieties significantly enhances household nutrition, meeting a substantial portion of daily iron requirements and retaining high bioavailable iron after cooking. These beans are ideally suited for improving overall nutrition.

  • HIB varieties are not only used for home consumption but have the potential to create markets for high-iron precooked beans, pasta, composite flour, and processed foods in some African countries.

  • HIB varieties also exhibit traits such as high pod-filling, high yields, and adaptation to environmental stresses, making them valuable for agricultural and food security purposes.

Key points to design your business plan

For Seed multipliers

Producing Biofortified Beans for Improved Nutrition technology provides a solution to promote health, combat hunger, and address malnutrition.

In order to multiply seeds effectively, you need to stock up on Foundation or Registered Seed depending on your position in the seed development process. The multiplication of technology does not require the purchase of a license.

Your potential customers are : wholesale distributors of seed to retailers, and to development projects, government agencies, and NGOs. 

Building strong partnerships with wholesale distributor networks is key to the success of your business.


For Users (Farmers)

Using Biofortified Beans for Improved Nutrition technology offers a cost-effective, sustainable solution to combat Iron and Zinc deficiency, ensures consistent nutrient supply, and empowers diverse farming communities for enhanced health and wellbeing.

As the technology is available in Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, include the account for import clearance and duties if relevant.

As key partners you need sellers of  HIB varieties.

You need to estimate the cost structure for the Biofortified Beans for Improved Nutrition technology.

You need to estimate the profit realized with the use of the the product 


Positive or neutral impact

Adults 18 and over
Positive high
The poor
Positive medium
Under 18
Positive high
Positive high

Positive or neutral impact

Climate adaptability
It adapts really well
Adaptability for farmers
It helps a lot
It helps them grow and thrive
Carbon footprint
It reduces emissions a little
It makes a big difference
Soil quality
It makes the soil healthier and more fertile
Water usage
It uses the same amount of water

Countries with a green colour
Tested & adopted
Countries with a bright green colour
Countries with a yellow colour
Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia Algeria Angola Benin Botswana Burundi Burkina Faso Democratic Republic of the Congo Djibouti Côte d’Ivoire Eritrea Gabon Gambia Ghana Guinea Guinea-Bissau Cameroon Kenya Libya Liberia Madagascar Mali Malawi Morocco Mauritania Mozambique Namibia Niger Nigeria Republic of the Congo Rwanda Zambia Senegal Sierra Leone Zimbabwe Somalia South Sudan Sudan South Africa Eswatini Tanzania Togo Tunisia Chad Uganda Western Sahara Central African Republic Lesotho
Countries where the technology has been tested and adopted
Country Tested Adopted
Burundi Tested Adopted
Democratic Republic of the Congo Tested Adopted
Ethiopia Tested Adopted
Kenya Tested Adopted
Malawi Tested Adopted
Rwanda Tested Adopted
Tanzania Tested Adopted
Uganda Tested Adopted
Zambia Tested Adopted
Zimbabwe Tested Adopted

This technology can be used in the colored agro-ecological zones. Any zones shown in white are not suitable for this technology.

Agro-ecological zones where this technology can be used
AEZ Subtropic - warm Subtropic - cool Tropic - warm Tropic - cool

Source: HarvestChoice/IFPRI 2009

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that are applicable to this technology.

Sustainable Development Goal 2: zero hunger
Goal 2: zero hunger
Sustainable Development Goal 3: good health and well-being
Goal 3: good health and well-being

  • HIB (High-Iron Bean) varieties are cultivated using standard management practices.
  • Beans are self-pollinating, allowing farmers to save the best grains from their harvest for planting the following season, although this practice should be limited to prevent disease and insect pest accumulation.
  • Planting methods for beans may include flat land cultivation, hill or ridge planting (suitable for heavy soils, slopes, or high water table areas).
  • Soil preparation involves tillage, inorganic fertilizer incorporation, and seed inoculation with rhizobia.
  • To maintain productivity, it's advised not to recycle bean seeds more than three times.
  • Beans are typically grown as monocrops or intercropped with various crops like maize, sweet potatoes, cotton, coffee, bananas, sunflower, and others.
  • Seed rates are higher for pure stands of bush-type beans, while lower rates are used for intercropping. Inter-row distances are typically 50 to 75 cm, and the distance within rows or between hills is 10 cm for single seeds or 20 cm for two seeds per station.

Last updated on 22 May 2024