(Tetum) MAF-SoL Research staff held the first farmer taste-test of high-nutrient winged bean varieties at Loes Research Centre, Liquica district, last week.
Six varieties of winged bean from Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, Papua New Guinea and Nigeria, and two local varieties from Venilale and Lospalos districts were compared for their texture, taste and sweetness.
MAF-SoL Researcher Jose da Costa R. Freygen said Seeds of Life has been researching winged bean varieties for three years.
“Of the 30 winged bean varieties we’ve been testing from overseas, only six are well adapted to Timor-Leste conditions.
“Now, we’ll use the results of our first-ever winged bean taste test to identify farmers’ preferred varieties and we’ll continue to research these,” he said.
Most of the participating farmers and MAF-SoL staff ranked the local variety from Lospalos as the tastiest followed by the varieties from Indonesia and PNG.
According to Jose Freygen, the two local wing bean varieties are almost extinct in Timor-Leste because Timorese farmers haven’t planted them for over 10 years.
“Over 10 years ago our farmers planted winged bean, but now it’s almost gone,” he said.
“We’re working to keep winged bean in Timor-Leste because it’s full of nutrition and every part of the plant can be eaten including the flowers, tubers, pods and seeds.”
To ensure the local winged bean varieties survived, MAF-SoL research staff did some conservation work to improve the quality of local varieties.
The objective of the conservation is to improve food security through increasing the production of legumes, especially winged bean.
Following harvest of the winged bean plants at Loes Research Station this month, Jose will analyse each variety’s production to know which are the highest yielding.
In addition, MAF-SoL researchers will distribute winged bean seed to farmers for on-farm demonstration trials to see how they perform under the range of farm conditions.