Researchers at Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Kari) in Embu have developed a high-yielding bean variety.
The Em-Bean14, which is yet to be released to the public, also thrives in areas with low rainfall and is resistant to diseases.
This variety has been tried for two years and can produce up to 2.3 tons on an acre compared to the standard 1.8 tons from other varieties.
Speaking at the demonstration farm in Embu when researchers from Uganda, south Sudan and Rwanda had visited, Kari’s agronomist Alfred Micheni said the variety takes between 90-95 days to mature.
He said the bean plant produces about 20 pods and exhibits resistance to common bean plant diseases while initial reports indicate that, the bean variety does not cause stomach gas after consumption.
“The farmers who have consumed it say it is very palatable. It is a good quality produce,” said Mr.Micheni.
He said only a few farmers were growing it on trial basis but Kari would soon release the variety for mass production by seed companies for sale.
The bean variety is developed under the sustainable intensification of maize-legume based farming system for improved food security in eastern and southern Africa (simlea), which seeks to boost beans and maize production.
The programme funded by Australian centre for research, also seeks to educate farmers on how to best inter-crop beans and maize to maximize on land use and boost soil conservation.
“We are promoting conservation agricultural techniques to boost yields. We are advising farmers to erect ridges and furrows since this mode of tillage, conserves moisture and nutrients,” said Mr.Micheni.
According to Mr. Erasmus Njiru, a farmer from Karungu village in Embu east district on whose three-acre farm Kari-Embu is using, the new technique and bean variety has increased production.
“We are now getting more yields. Last season, we harvested 20 bags of maize and eight bags of beans. Initially, we used to harvest 10 bags of maize and five bags of beans,’ said Mr. Njiru who has set aside about two acres for maize and beans.
Kari-Embu has also developed three varieties of climber beans which can also be inter-cropped with maize.
By Charles Wanyoro,
July 22, 2012, Page 37.