NOTICE: Hard copies of the Australian New Crops Newsletter are available from the publisher, Dr Rob Fletcher. Details of availability are included in theAdvice on Publications Available.
Don't believe all you reed
Gatton, Lockyer and Brisbane Valley
Friday, July 31, 1998
Fax (07) 5460 1112
Let's weed out rubbish
A new miracle bean has been discovered in the Kalahari desert and is expected to solve Australia's agricultural problems.
The bean is the morama bean, a native of the Kalahari desert and a popular food amongst the Kalahari bushmen.
It was these bushmen who amused millions of film goers some years ago in the films 'The Gods Must Be Crazy Parts 1 & 2'.
In the first of these films, a bushman found a coke bottle and the tribe decided to worship it.
The bushmen endeared themselves to movie goers with their unusual voice clicking and their preoccupation with running for weeks through the countryside.
Apparently, the bushmen would have been better advised to worship their morama bean. Or at least, they should have taken out a patent application on it.
Morama bean is currently being grown at a secret location adjacent to a Tertiary Institution in the Lockyer Valley.
The seeds were originally collected in Botswana by an agronomist, Mr Brian Monaghan.
Mr Monaghan is currently a researcher at Horsham, Victoria.
He saw the bean growing in Botswana some years ago when he was a field officer working in that country with an international aid agency.
He returned to Botswana in 1994 to collect the bean. This visit was sponsored by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.
Several seeds were germinated in Melbourne in late 1994 and the seedlings flown to the secret location west of Brisbane.
The plants have now been growing for 31/2 years and there has been great excitement recently because they have been flowering for the third time.
The flower has attractive yellow petals which very swiftly disappear amongst the lush green growth.
Morama is used by the Kalahari bushmen in a number of ways. The 'nuts' from the morama can be roasted and eaten just like roasted chestnuts.
A tuber forms under the ground. It can be eaten or used as a source of moisture when times are tough.
The tuber can grow to an enormous weight, up to a quarter of a ton. Several of the tubers growing in the field in Queensland have reached the size of a cow.
The lush vine-like growth continues throughout the summer months. Morama is a relative of the Bauhinia tree, so the leaves have the characteristic butterfly shape of this beautiful flowering tropical tree.
The morama bean is unusual amongst beans in that it is perennial, meaning it will grow for many years and is also deciduous, shedding its leaves every autumn.
This plant is an important part of the subsistence life of the Kalahari bushmen and it is difficult to understand why it has not become a part of Australian agriculture before now.
However, all this could well be about to change.
Seeds may be sold singly by auction.
When asked his opinion, an Australian new crops identity indicated that the morama bean was a curiosity and probably has little relevance to Australian agriculture.
[Handout for visitors to the New Crops Program, School of Land and Food, The University of Queensland Gatton College, designed to demonstrate the "hype", that is, the hyperbole or exaggeration often associated with new crops]
Any claims made by authors in the Australian New Crops Newsletter are presented by the Editors in good faith. Readers would be wise to critically examine the circumstances associated with any claims to determine the applicability of such claims to their specific set of circumstances. This material can be reproduced, with the provision that the source and the author (or editors, if applicable) are acknowledged and the use is for information or educational purposes. Contact with the original author is probably wise since the material may require updating or amendment if used in other publications. Material sourced from the Australian New Crops Newsletter cannot be used out of context or for commercial purposes not related to its original purpose in the newsletter
Contact: Dr Rob Fletcher, School of Land and Food, The University of Queensland Gatton College, 4345; Telephone: 07 5460 1311 or 07 5460 1301; Facsimile: 07 5460 1112; International facsimile: 61 7 5460 1112; Email:email@example.com
[New Crops Home Page] [New Crops Program] [Australian New Crops Newsletter] [New Crops Publications] [Order Form] [People] [Crop Profiles] [Other Resources]
originally created by:GK; latest update 6 June 1999 by: RF