USAID Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Legume Systems Research

The USAID Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Legume Systems Research is a five-year research and capacity building development program managed by MSU that focuses on grain legume production in western and southern Africa. Legumes are a nutrient-dense staple crop that have multifunctional roles in smallholder farm systems in developing countries, including food and nutrition security, generating income, providing livestock feed and fodder, and contributing to the sustainability of soil systems through their nitrogen-fixing capabilities. Cowpea, pigeon pea and common bean are the focal crops of the Legume Systems Innovation Lab. The project was awarded by USAID in 2018 and focuses research in Burkina Faso, Benin, Ghana, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Zambia. 

Highlights between July 2019 and December 2020, include: 

  • Management of six competitive research projects and three commissioned projects across focus geographic regions.
  • Fivequick start projects concluded, resulting in release of an improved common bean variety and another ready to scale, integrated pest management technology that has spawned cottage industry for the women of Niger, and development of numerous suitability maps for Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali and Nigeria that indicate best locations for introduction of mung bean and pigeon pea crops.
  • 879 participants in short-term training in 10 countries.
  • 18 students engaged in masters and/or doctoral degree granting programs.
  • Associate award granted to Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO) for information dissemination project on addressing the secondary effects of COVID-19. SAWBO RAPID, managed by MSU, produced, distributed and evaluated 10-15 animated videos focused for release in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Bangladesh.

To assist projects in identifying strategies and interventions to incorporate lab cross cutting thematic areas of gender, youth, nutrition, resilience and capacity development into their research, the lab established the Resilience Resource Team (RRT). The first of its kind for Feed the Future Innovation Labs, RRT is comprised of advisors in each of the cross-cutting areas who work with the research projects to ensure integration of capacity development across the thematic areas and design a resilience framework to support the legume value chain. RRT solicits and funds specific multidisciplinary projects through a competitive program funded by the lab and assists the research projects in executing and evaluating them. 

For more information, please contact Barry Pittendrigh, PhD, at or visit the program progress dashboard and/or website.