The research institute Misión Biológica de Galicia (MBG), part of the Spanish High Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), is participating in the research project 'New bean varieties to meet emerging trends in vegetable consumption', which also counts with the participation of the University of Almeria and the companies Ramiro Arnedo S.A. (coordinator of the initiative) and Lara Castañeda S.U.R.L.
The research will be carried out over the next three years thanks to a public-private partnership. The project, which is called 'OPTIBEAN', has been subsidized with more than half a million Euro as part of the State Plan for Research, Development and Innovation. The aim of this plan is to support collaborative projects between companies and research institutions, to promote the development of new technologies and the business application of new ideas and techniques, contributing to the creation of new products and services.
"In Spain, green beans are among the fresh vegetables that have recorded the greatest increases in consumption in recent years; however, there has also been a significant drop in the acreage, mainly due to the competition from third countries. Nevertheless, the Spanish consumer appreciates the characteristics of traditional products, so it could be said that the Spanish market is currently a growing one," explains Marta Santalla Ferradás, researcher at the MBG.
The project's goal is the development of new green bean varieties that are more competitive against those imported from third countries. They will also have a higher added value based on the reputation and identity of the national production. The next challenge is to find out how to get Spanish green bean cultivation to meet the market demands in terms of quality.
"We want to contribute to innovation in the agro-food sector and promote diversification with new, high quality green bean products, grown with a minimal environmental impact. This should have a beneficial effect on the opening of new sales channels and help improve the sustainability of agriculture," says Santalla Ferradás.
OPTIBEAN focuses on the recovery and improvement of traditional varieties through genetic improvement. Innovative genomic tools and technologies are used to this end.
The project has four main lines: 1) Study of the agro-biodiversity of green beans and selection of new varieties for the fresh market, 2) Improvement of the post-harvest quality and storage, 3) Genetic improvement of the resistance against diseases as a strategy for the sustainable cultivation of green beans and 4) Analysis of the economic sustainability of the new top varieties, identification of evaluation methods and the socio-economic impact.