University of Nottingham Malaysia
Crops for the Future Research Centre


Project concept note

Developing bambara groundnut as an exemplar underutilised crop species.

Problem statements

  • Bambara groundnut has potential as a crop due to its drought tolerance and good nutritional composition. However, pod yields can be low and/or erratic. This may be due to its photoperiod requirement for pod‐set and/or problems with fertility in some landraces.
  • Crop improvement programmes on major species have attracted
    significant investment from national governments and breeding companies over many decades. In contrast, support for research and breeding on underutilised crops has been insignificant. 
  • Applying data and expertise from major crops to promising underutilised species, such as bambara groundnut, is an effective use of research investment on major crops for transfer to other species.
  • Since there are no true varieties of bambara groundnut, crop yields are derived from farmers own landraces. The development of crop varieties of bambara groundnut with desirable agronomic traits for different environments is an essential prerequisite for its greater uptake and use.
  • Most underutilised crops are grown under sub‐optimal conditions
    and management regimes. This makes yield prediction and modelling difficult. Understanding the basis for plant to crop canopy transition is important for predicting appropriate agronomic practices in different environments.
  • Researchers at the University of Nottingham and partners in Africa, Asia and Europe have collaborated in research on bambara 
    groundnut for many years. Integrating and evaluating this collective experience within a wider sociocultural context can be used to develop generic approaches for multidisciplinary research into the improvement of many other underutilised species that face similar challenges.
  • The available and proposed research on bambara groundnut provides an excellent opportunity to develop and test generic approaches to enhance take up of underutilised crops among user groups.


To develop multidisciplinary approaches, tools, methodologies and genetic resources to address the limiting factors in the adoption of underutilised crops using bambara groundnut as an exemplar crop.


  • New understanding of technical and sociocultural constraints to greater uptake of bambara groundnut.
  • Application of data on bambara groundnut for the construction of the CropBase platform prototype.
  • An international crop improvement and breeding programme on bambara groundnut as a generic model for other underutilised species.

Programme concept

In country, field‐based breeding selection will be supported by focused research to address specific issues. BamYield will address issues of:

  • fertility
  • translation of data from major to minor species with the use of Next Generation Sequencing approaches
  • mathematical modelling of canopy development for prediction and selection
  • a novel approach to crop breeding

Sociocultural and transdisciplinary issues in the research into and uptake of bambara groundnut by different communities will be addressed as part of the research process to identify transferable approaches to other underutilised crops.  

Potential partners

  • University of Nottingham
  • Reading University, UK
  • Diversity Arrays Technology, Australia

Other potential partners are also in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone and South Africa. 

Programme activities

A workshop will be held in Malaysia to identify partner roles and responsibilities, practical objectives for international breeding and research activities and management structure.

Whilst the initial focus will be on genetics and breeding, transdisciplinary activities, end‐user participation and existing knowledge on bambara groundnut will be integrated into each stage of the programme for longer term sustainability and outcomes.

The process of the research activities will provide a mechanism for the development of a general methodology for application to other  underutilised crops.  

Application information

Completed applications should be submitted by Friday 1 June 2012 to:


For more information about this project please direct enquiries to:






Crops for the Future Research Centre

University of Nottingham Malaysia
Jalan Broga, 43500 Semenyih
Selangor Darul Ehsan

telephone: +6 (03) 8924 8799
fax: +6 (03) 8924 8798