Farmers in Nakuru County have been asked to grow more beans during the anticipated El-Nino rains since they are a universal remedy for climate change due to their genetic diversity to adapt faster to various kinds of weather. An expert in legumes, Mrs. Florence Malemba said beans rank second to maize in importance as a food crop in Kenya. However, they are cultivated almost exclusively by about 1.5 million smallholder farmers on about a million hectares with yields of an estimated 0.6 million tons. Speaking to KNA, Malemba noted with concern that although the country has two growing seasons for beans, a significant number of farmers grow the crop once a year during the March-May long rains season. In addition, she said beans are an important part of the local diet for both adults and children. They also they have a lot of benefits for the soil because they improve fertility by adding nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil and help to control weeds and pests. Besides, Malemba emphasized the importance of beans reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and due to their satiety nature, they reduce food waste because they are more valued. Plus, they have a reduced need for fertilizer compared to maize, which requires at least two bags of 50kgs per acre. However, the expert bemoaned the challenges that bean farmers go through such as the tedious nature of shelling them, and a lack of market information that makes it much easier for middlemen to exploit them. A bean farmer Ms. Agnes Rotich concurred with Malemba that beans are an important food crop because they contain both proteins and carbohydrates, which makes them a complete meal. However, Rotich complained about the reduced prices from Sh15000 per 90kg bag at the beginning of the year to Sh8000, and also the difficulty of getting good certified seeds.
Source: Kenya News Agency