The initiative is being funded under the Green Development and Demonstration Program (GUDP), run by the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food, to the tune of 15m DKK (around €2m) in total over a period of four years.
Enhancing faba beans’ protein content, amino acid composition and protein digestibility are the focus areas of IMFABA.
Seed protein content, storage protein diversity and feed value will be screened to develop markers and enable breeding crosses that lead to increased protein and methionine content, without compromising yield or seed size, according to the official project description.
Improving the yield stability and feed value of faba beans would help them compete better with imported soy on price and quality, says the project team.
Faba beans are widely adapted to different climates, but yield especially well under moist, temperate conditions, they noted.
Project manager, Stig Uggerhøj Andersen, associate professor, the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University, said the team can capitalize on the resources and knowledge already generated under another, similarly focused Danish project, NORFAB; that initiative also set out to make the faba bean a more competitive, locally produced protein crop.
Professor Luc Janss, Center for Quantitative Genetics and Genomics, Aarhus University, another team member, said key would be addressing the climate resilience of the faba bean: “This project fits very well in our work on modelling genotype-environment interactions and on developing breeding strategies to develop climate resilient crops.”
There is reportedly strong interest from both Danish farmers and grain merchants in such protein alternatives.
Additional partners in the initiative include the University of Copenhagen, Sejet Plant Breeding, Nordic Seed and Business Academy Aarhus.