Queensland scientist awarded for being a mungbean champion

A Queensland Government scientist has been made a Lifetime Member of the Australian Mungbean Association (AMA) in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the mungbean industry, only the 12th time the AMA has awarded life membership in its 33-year history.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said research led by Dr Rex Williams had helped the mungbean industry grow to is present $120M production value.

“The work of people like Dr Williams is important because this kind of research supports our agricultural industries to grow and support rural jobs,” Mr Furner said.

“We are investing in research so our farmers can take on the world, and it is great to see scientists like Dr Williams recognised for their contributions to the industry.”

Dr Williams completed a PhD on mungbeans at the University of Queensland in 1989 titled, A study of the causes of, and selection for resistance to, weather damage in mungbean, under the guidance of AMA Lifetime Members Professor Bob Lawn and Dr Bruce Imrie. He also contributed to the development of Australia’s first dull-seeded mungbean variety ‘Satin’.

After two decades as a lucerne breeder in New South Wales, Dr Williams joined DAF in 2006 and soon reinstated his links with mungbeans as Director of the Queensland Government’s Crop Improvement unit.

AMA president Mark Schmidt said the mungbean industry was indebted to Dr Williams for his enthusiastic support over many years.

“The growth of the mungbean industry to its current five-year average value of over $120 million in export earnings is underpinned by focused agronomic research and the development of ever-improving mungbean varieties,” said Mr Schmidt.

“Dr Williams has been a key player in achieving this outcome and we are pleased to recognise his contribution to the industry with this special award.”

DAF Senior Mungbean Breeder, Col Douglas, said Rex’s outstanding research achievements and industry impact includes delivering more than $10 of benefits to industry for every $1 of public funds invested in Queensland’s pulse research and breeding.

“Rex has contributed to the rise of Queensland’s tropical pulse industry, with record crops of both mungbean and chickpea worth half a billion dollars in 2016, the United Nation’s International Year of Pulses,” Mr Douglas said.

“He has also supported the release of five (and soon to be six) mungbean varieties, including Crystal and Jade-AU, and five desi chickpea varieties including PBA HatTrick, PBA Seamer and PBA Drummond; a pulse partnership with Queensland University of Technology (QUT) to develop new knowledge and traits for chickpea and mungbean; and the development and extension of mungbean best management practice in Queensland.”

The mungbean is a valuable summer pulse crop, which is relatively heat and drought-tolerant, quick-maturing and requires minimal fertiliser input. Mungbeans are used in dahl in South Asia and eaten as nutritious bean sprouts in East and Southeast Asia.

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