Utilization of Bean Innovations for Food Security and Improved Livelihoods in Eastern and Central Africa | Crop Management (Crop Varieties)

Traditionally common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) are of great importance for household food and nutrition security, both for the rural and urban populations. Beans are high in antioxidants, fibre, cholesterol-free dietary protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc. Eating beans regularly also has a number of health benefits like decreasing the risk of diabetes, heart d Read more..

Description of the technology or innovation

Traditionally  common  beans  (Phaseolus  vulgaris  L.)  are  of  great  importance  for  household  food  and nutrition  security,  both  for  the  rural  and  urban  populations.    Beans  are  high  in  antioxidants,  fibre, cholesterol-free dietary protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc.  Eating beans regularly  also  has  a  number  of  health  benefits  like  decreasing  the  risk  of  diabetes,  heart  disease, colorectal  cancer,  and  helps  with  weight  management.  They  are  also  becoming  a  potential  source  of occupation and income for the resource poor farmers especially youth and women.  In Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) bean production occupies about 2 million hectares, which  represents  about  50%  of  the  area  grown  to  beans  in  Africa http://www.asareca.org/researchdir/files/nppfullbeans.pdf.

During the time when ASARECA operated through commodity  networks, it funded a number of bean research  projects  in  collaboration  with  Eastern  and  Central  African  Bean  Research  Network (ECABREN), but, the generated products had not yet been up scaled to the target farming communities.  To  build  on  the  achievements  of  ECABREN  and  to  synergize  the  efforts  of  other  organizations promoting  bean  production  and  utilization  such  as  Centre  for  International  Agriculture  (CIAT),Pan
Africa  Bean  Research  Alliance  (PABRA),  Alliance  for  a  Green  Revolution  in  Africa  (AGRA)  and HarvestPlus (H+), ASARECA funded another three bean projects in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi,  and  Democratic  Republic  of  Congo  (DRC),      These  are:  “Intensification  of  Climbing BeansSystemsin the Great Lakes Region” from2009 to 2011, and “Enhancing Competitiveness of Snap Beans  for  Domestic  and  Export  Markets”  during  2006,  and  from  2009-2011and  “Utilization  of  Bean
Innovations for Food Security and Improved Livelihoods in Eastern and Central Africa”  from2011 to 2013”.  

The above projects were developed to address a number of  production and economical constraints that farming  households  were  facing  and  these  included;  a)  severe    shortage  of  arable  land  and  land exhaustion, b) shortage of improved bean varieties (tolerant to shoot and root diseases), c) shortage of woody  stakes  (traditionally  used  for  supporting  climbing  beans),  d)  inadequate  extension    advisory services,  e)  use  of  inappropriate  agronomic  practices  f)  extensive  household  food  and  nutrition
insecurity  and  g)  widespread  rural  household  poverty.  All  these  problems  led  to  severe  shortage  and very high demand for beans in the ASARECA region.  As part of the solution to address the problem of low  productivity,  development  of  new  technologies  (varieti es  that  are  more  productive,  nutritive  and marketable), innovations and management Practices (TIMPs) were proposed.  The projects aimed at the promotion and utilization of improved common bean innovations, of both snap and dry beans varieties; for  increased  food,  nutrition  and  income  security  and  livelihood  improvements  in  Kenya,  Tanzania,
Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and DRC.

Improved common bean varieties (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) technology  is a genetic resource.  The bean varieties are developed after intensive research work in screen houses, laboratories, open fields both at the research institutes and farmer’s fields.  Farmers’  participatory variety selection approach was used.   Common bean varieties are classified based on different attributes such as the growth habit (erect, semiclimber and climbers shown below).


Heavily podded climbing beans                   Semi-climibing beans                     Bush or erect beans

Farmer carrying semi-climbing beans on their stakes

response  to  prevalent  pests  and  diseases  (susceptible,  tolerant  and  resistant),  days  to  maturity  (short, medium  and  long),  stage  of  growth  at  consumption  (leafy  vegetable,  immature  pods  nown  as  snap beans,  fresh and dry  beans), testa and/or pod; shape of pod and  seed (round, oval, kidney etc) colour (green,  yellow  or  red  pods,  red,  white,  yellow  mottled  etc  seed),,  suitable  location;  altitude  (low, medium  and  high),  soils  (poor  soils,  salty  soils  etc),  yield  (low,  medium  and  high),  marketability, nutritional (high micronutrient, high fatty amino acids, fortified etc) and culinary characteristics (good taste, swelling when cooked, fast cooking etc), intercropping ability just to mention a few.

Improved climbing beans give higher economic yields in areas  of high rainfall, but, are also tolerant to drought because of their deep root system.  Green pods and also the fresh and dried mature seeds are consumed in different ways. The latter are used in stews, soups or salads while the former are boiled or fried especially in the urban areas and in hotels. On the other hand, in the rural areas dry bean grains are cooked alone or in a mixture with staple crops like maize, cassava, sweetpotatoes, and potatoes.  Under
the ASARECA projects farmers were taught how to make bean based products for income generation and improved household food security (see photos below).


Display of different bean-based dishes of both leaves            Various bean-based products for income generation
and grains

In order to benefit the farmers, improved bean varieti es are not used in isolation, but, combination with selected  production  practices  (crop  management/husbandry  practices);  post-harvest/value  addition products  &  practices.    The  promoted  TIMPs  preserve  natural  resources  and  biodiversity  management practices and do not lead to degradation of the environment.  Bean variety development is a long process involving gathering practices laboratory techniques and green  house screening; marketing practices; and capacity building and providing the knowledge and skills needed to use them.  All the new bean varieties were  developed,  evaluated  and  promoted  in  the  project  countries  and  other  member  countries  for ECABREN,  CIAT/PABRA,  AGRA  and  HarvestPlus.    Sometimes  a  different  name  was  used  for  the
same variety.  Different countries played different roles during development of the improved varieties.  Rwanda  and  Kenya  generated  several  varieties  including  two  climbing  snap  bean  varieties.  The development of climbing snap beans was a major breakthrough.  The countries shared all the generated TIMPs.

Description of the Improved Bean Varieties
a)  G13607 Twungurumuryango/Makutsa 2
Twungurumuryango/Makutsa2(G13607)is one of  the  improved and productive climbing  bean varieties that were developed and is now ready for scaling out.  It  is an early maturing climbing bean variety; matures  within  110-120  days  after  planting,  not  bio-fortified  although  it  is  high  in  iron  and  Zinc micronutrients.  It has a red testa making it attractive.  It sells quickly in the  market and housewives like selling it because they do not have to spend a long in the market negotiating with buyers, its price
is also better than that for local varieties.  It performs well in medium and high altitude areas of 1200-1600  and  1700-2300masl,  giving  medium  or  high  yields  of  1500-2500  g  depending  on  the management. It has good culinary characteristics; it swells when cooked (thus less is used to feed more people), it makes thick sauce. When cooked in combination with other foods like cassava, banana and maize it gives a deep red color to the food making it appetizing (photo 2).  However, it has a hard testa which makes it take long to cook, but, this has an advantage of long storability. It can be intercropped with maize, cassava and banana and still give economic yield.


                                                                                                       The maize, cassava and potato mixed with red beans

a.  Nyawera
Nyawera is a white skin climbing bean variety. It is also one of the varieties that were developed to increase  the productivity of beans within the  region. It is biofortified,  early  maturing;  matures within110-130  days  after  planting.  It is high yielding giving  1500-2500 Kg/ha  depending on the management. It does well in medium and high altitude  areas  of  1200-1600m  and  >1700-2300masl respectively.  It can be intercropped with maize, cassava and banana and still give economical yield. It has a good taste, it sells quickly  in the  market therefore most households grow it for sale. It cooks quickly thus saves fuel. It has a short storability period attributed to its nutritious status and soft testa.  As a result it requires value addition for its preservation. Nyawera  is commonly  it  is used  in  hotels  for breakfast and recently  it  is used  in the biscuit industry. It is also used for cultural functions and festivals like marriage ceremonies especially in Burundi.


    Nyawera                                                           Improved  bean  variety;  high  yielding  and drought tolerant

b.  AND10 (Bishaza)
Bishaza is climbing bean variety. It is referred to as a sugar type with an attractive white speckled redtesta which increases its marketability.  It has an early to late maturity period of 115 to 130 days after planting.  It performs well in medium and high altitude areas of 1200-1600 and high >1700-2300 m.a.s.l respectively.  It  is  high  yielding  and  gives1500-2500  Kg/ha.  It  has  large  seed  size.    It  is  tasty  and nutritious  bean  type.  It  has  an  attractive  white-speckled  red  soft  testa.  It  is  preferred  for  family
consumption because it swells when cooked, thus less is  used per meal. However it has a short storage period requiring value addition to increase the storage period.


                              Bishaza                                                               Gasilida also known as Waraye

c.  Gasilida ISAR CB-10-3 also known as Waraye
Gasilida is a bean variety named after a lady farmer from Rwanda. The criteria for its selection were based on its ability to yield highly; giving 4,000 to 5,000 Kg/ha even in farmers’ fields because it is adapted  to  low  soil  fertility, has large  seeds, its seed coat is dark red colour which makes it very attractive to buyers.  It also has a short gestation period; matures within 90 to 96 days after planting, has good culinary attributes.  It also has soft leaves which are eaten as green leafy vegetables; both fresh
and  dry  grains  have  a  good  taste  and  make  nice  broth.  It does not  require frying to make it tasty. Unlike other dark coloured beans, when boiled with other staple foods it does not give black colour, but,  gives  an  attractive red colour that is highly preferred in Burundi,and Rwanda.The variety is highly marketable and it can perform well both in the medium and high altitude areas.

d.  NABE 12C


                                                           Shortly after harvest                            Testa  becomes  darker  after storage

NABE  12C  is  a  climbing  bean  variety  released  by  NARO-NaCRRI  in  2003;  however  it  is  still  a desirable variety. It matures within77 to113 days after planting.  It is high yielding with a potential of  2500 to 3500Kg/Ha under good management.  On average  it produces 44 pods per plant with  large attractive grain and pods.  The grain is oval shaped. It is tasty, swells when cooked, yet does not split and it’s very good for Canning.  The seeds are of medium  size.  It is highly marketable, both as dry and fresh grain.  NABE 12C was traditionally grown in high  altitude (highlands) areas such as south western and eastern highlands in Uganda, but, it is becoming popular in low altitude areas.  In both low and high altitude areas NABE 12C has been promoted for export for the canning industry.  It is prone to bean weevil damage a characteristic attributed to the soft testa.

e.  Snap bean variety RAB SB - SB-12-1 also known as 1214-2/2
Unlike dry beans where mature grain is eaten fresh or dry, snap beans are eaten as immature bean pods.


    Snap bean pods before sorting

Snap  bean  variety  1214-2/2  was  released  by  Rwanda  Agricultural  Board  in  2012.  The  variety  is  a climbing snap bean and it performs well in different ecological locations in the medium and high altitude areas.  The breeding of snap climbing bean was a major breakthrough for Rwanda Agricultural Board and the ASARECA funded projects.  It is high yielding with fresh pod weight of 15 to 19 tons/ha, has round pods of 12 cm long.  The pods have good snapping qualities because they have little fibre, they cook fast and  are  highly  marketable  both  on  regional  and  export  maret.    It  has  large  white  seeds.  It  is early maturing, takes only, 70 days to the first harvest. It has a frequency of harvest of 12 times. It is tolerant to Angular leaf spot and Ascochyta blight, and also had good resistance to both Anthracnose and common bean blight. Has good resistance to bean common mosaic virus.

f.  Snap bean variety RAB SB - SB-12-2 also known as SB -273


                     Snap bean variety 273 SB

The snap bean variety SB-273 was released by Rwanda Agricultural Board in 2012. It is a bush snap bean; it performs well in different ecological locations in the high altitude areas.  It is high yielding with fresh pod weight of 12 to 14 tons/ha,  has round  pods of 17 cm  l ong.  The pods  have good snapping quality  because  they  have  little  fibre,  they  cook  fast  and  are  oily,  thus  preferred  by  housewives.  are highly marketable both on regional and export market.  It has large white seeds.  It is adopted to low soil
fertility, is early maturing. It takes only 50 days to give the first harvest.  It has a frequency of harvest of 8 times. It is  tolerant to Angular leaf spot and Ascochyta blight, and also had good resistance to both Anthracnose and common bean blight.  Has good resistance to bean common mosaic virus.

g.  Snap bean variety RAB SB - SB-10-3 also known as TA RROT
Tarrot was released by Rwanda Agricultural Board in 2010. The variety is a bush snap bean, it performs well in different ecological locations in the medium and high altitude areas.  It is high yielding with fresh pod weight of 5 to 7 tons/ha, has round pods of 12 cm long.  The pods are tasty and have good snapping quality  because  they  have  little  fibre,  they  cook  fast,  thus  preferred  by  housewives.   It is highly marketable  both  on  regional  and  export  market.    It  has  small  mottle  seeds.    It  is  adopted  to  low  soil fertility, is early maturing, and takes only, 47 days to the first harvest.  It has a frequency of harvest of 8 times.    It  is  tolerant  to  Angular  leaf  spot  and  Ascochyta  blight,  and  also  had  good  resistance  to  both Anthracnose and common bean blight.  Has good resistance to bean common mosaic virus.

h.  Snap bean variety SB-10-3 also known as Piramide
Piramide snap bean variety was released by Rwanda Agricultural Board in 2010. The variety is a bush snap bean; it performs well in different ecological locat ions in the medium and high altitude areas.  It is high yielding with fresh pod weight of 5 to 7 tons/ha, has round pods of 12 cm long.  The pods are tasty and  have  good  snapping  quality  because  they  have  little  fibre,  they  cook  fast,  thus  preferred  by housewives are highly marketable both on regional and export market.  It has small mottle seeds.  It is
adopted  to  low  soil  fertility,  is  early  maturing,  and  taes  only  47  days  to  the  first  harvest. It has a frequency of harvest of 8 times.  It is  tolerant to Angular leaf spot and Ascochyta blight, and also had good resistance to both Anthracnose and common bean blight.  Has good resistance to bean common mosaic virus; tolerant to rust, resistant to root rot, high yielding, long and soft pod.

i.   Other new bean varieties
Bush, semi-climbers and climbing dry bean varieties were developed and the details are shown in tables 1 to 3 below.  Rwanda  had a  major  breakthrough  in their  breeding programme.  They developed  several bean  varieties and these were released  in 2012  by the  Rwanda  Agricultural Board (RAB) and National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) between 2010 and 2012. The varieties were developed to address issues of new pests and diseases attacking beans an d also there are issues related to climate change.   So, to overcome these  challenges,  there  is  need  to  develop  new  varieties  that  are  resilient  to  climate  change,  more productive, with higher nutritive value; and be able to perform in marginal soils.

   Table 1: Bush bean varieties released by Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) in 2010 and 2012

Variety RWK 10 RWR 1180 RWR 1668 RWR 2245
Yield (Kg/ha) 1500 2000 5000–7000 5000–7000
Cooking time Fast Fast Fast Fast
Quality Good Good Good Good
Type Bush Bush Bush Bush
Days to maturity 75 75 78 87
Seed colour Cream + purple sugar Red mottled Red Red mottled
Altitude Low–medium Low–medium Low–medium Low–medium
Angular leaf spot Tolerant Tolerant Tolerant Tolerant
Ascochyta blight Tolerant Tolerant Tolerant Tolerant
Anthracnose Good resistance Good resistance Good resistance Good resistance
Common Bean
Mosaic Virus
Good resistance Good resistance Good resistance Good resistance
Highly marketable, cooks fast, large seed, good resistance to rust, swells during cooking Highly marketable, cooks fast, large seed, good resistance to rust, swells during cooking, adapted to low soil fertility Long, soft and delicious
pods, good broth colour
Tolerant to rust, resistant to root
rot, long and soft pod, good
broth colour, high iron content
All the bush bean varieties released by RAB cook fast, are tolerant to Angular leaf spot and Ascochyta blight, also have good resistance to both Anthracnose and common bean blight disease

Table 2: Climbing bean varieties released by National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO)  in 2010 and 2012

Variety NABE 26C NABE 29C
Days to maturity 77 – 113 78  - 120
Seed shape Cuboid Oval
Testa/seed colour. Dark red mottled, but with a dull
100 seed mass (gm) 36.87 36.42
Marketability Seed is marketable Seed is marketable
Cooking qualities Red soup/dark brown  soup  on cooking,
swells on cooking, tasty
Dark red soup on cooking, Swells on cooking, very tasty (even without salt), cooked grain does not split, cooked grain is soft to eat, testa is soft after cooking
Angular leaf spot Tolerant Tolerant
Anthracnose Tolerant Tolerant
Root rot Tolerant Tolerant
Altitude Mid and high altitude areas Mid and high altitude areas
Other attributes Early maturing Has a very attractive oval shaped red seed
The pod is similar to that of NABE 12C but slightly shorter

Table 3: Climbing bean varieties released by Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) 2010 and 2012

Variety RWV 3006 RWV 3316 RWV 3317 MAC 42 RWV 2887 MAC 28 RWV 1348
Yield (Kg/Ha) 3800 4000 4000 3500–4000 3800 3500–4000 3800
Days to maturity 110 115 110 81 106 93 110
Seed size Large Large 110 Large Large Large Small
Testa colour White Red White + Red/ sugar Cream + Red/ sugar Red Red, mottled Pink
Altitude Medium– High High High Low– Medium High Low– Medium Medium– High
Highly demanded in
urban markets,
especially in hotels
Highly appreciated by
farmers, high in iron
Highly appreciated by
farmers, soft leaves
eaten as vegetable
Highly appreciated
by farmers, soft
leaves eaten as
vegetables, high iron
Highly appreciated
by farmers, soft
leaves eaten as
Attractive broth
Pods and leaves
eaten as vegetabl

Table 3 Contd: Climbing bean varieties released by Rwanda Agricultural Board 2010 and 2012

Variety RWV 2269 RWV 2361 RWV 2872 RWV 2070 MAC 9 MAC 44
Yield (Kg/Ha) 4000 3800 4200 3000–4000 3000 3500
Days to maturity 106 108 96–108 90–120 83 87
Seed size Medium Medium Large Large Large Large
Testa colour Yellow White + Red/ sugar White + Red/ sugar Khaki Red, mottled Red, mottled
Altitude Medium– High High Medium– High Medium– High Low– Medium Low– Medium
None Highly appreciated
by farmers
Highly appreciated
by farmers
Tolerant to poor
soils, has big
Highly appreciated by
Highly appreciated by
Due to fast growth,
soft leaves eaten as
vegetable, high iron
Due to tolerance to
heavy rainfall,
attractive, broth
Tolerant to drought and
good broth
Tolerant to low soil
fertility, high iron content,
good broth colour


Assessment/reflection on utilization, dissemination & scaling out or up approaches used

The project “Utilization of Bean Innovations for Food Security and Improved Livelihoods in Eastern and Central Africa” was specifically for scaling-up the TIMPs developed by both “Intensification of Climbing Beans Systems” and “Enhancing Competitiveness of Snap Beans for Domestic and Export Markets”  projects. The ASARECA projects predominantly focused on the involvement of youth and women  in  agricultural  activities  and  they  were  the  primary  target  group.  The  intermediary beneficiaries were individual farmers, farmer groups or associations or cooperatives, local traders, the Local Government (LG) extension agents, churches, NGOs, input suppliers, private seed producers,
research  institutes  and  universities.    FAO  studies  confirm  that  women  are  the  backbone  of  rural economy in developing countries and are responsible for 60-80% of food production. They also tend to  be  the  most  nowledgeable  about  crop  varieties.  The  pro ject  carried  out  various  activities including strengthening the capacity of beneficiaries. Some of  the approaches used in scaling up of the  crop  variety  technology above  included  setting  up  Farmer  Field  Schools  (FFS),  demonstrations
plots and on-farm trials, organizing  farmers’ open  field  days, and exchange  visits.  They also used formal  training  of  trainers  (ToTs),  development  of  audi o  and  audio-visual  materials  like documentaries,  fact  sheets  and  other  printed  media,  ,  plus  broadcasting  media  like  television  and radio.  Over  2000  households  in  Rwanda,  Burundi,  DRC  and  Uganda  are  already  involved  in  its production,  consumption  and  marketing,  it’s  scaling  up  process  experienced  a  few  challenges.  The
farmers’ expectations were very high; there was severe shortage of seeds.  The rural farmers could not easily  access  or  afford  available  seeds  because  the  packaging  and  pricing.  The  seed  was  very expensive  and  the  packaging  too  big  for  smallholder  production.  Also,  most  of  the  time,  seed delivery  was  late.  The  existing  seed  companies  were  not  interested  in  multiplying  climbing  beans because  of  the  additional  costs  associated  with  woody   staking  materials.  On  the  other  hand
government/research is unable to produce sufficient planting materials.

As a  means of addressing the challenges  listed above and also ensuring wider dissemination of the technology in the near future, the following were suggested as intervention measures:

  • Encourage private sector participation;
  • Use cheaper alternative stakes promoted by the projects;
  • Use Farmer Field Schools to train growers in quality seed production; and,
  • Form Innovation Platforms for Technology Adoption (IPTAs) on seed production and group marketing.

Challenges encountered during scaling up

  • The  farmers’  expectations  were  very  high  and  it  was  not  possible  to  meet  the  demand  for improved bean seed.
  • There  were  changes  in  climate.  Both  drought  and  floods  resulted  in  lower  yields  and  poor quality harvest.
  • There is an increasing demand for fresh beans; farmers cannot resist selling their beans before they dry and ending up experiencing seed shortage the next seasons thus tilting the production and demand of bean seed.
  • The improved bean varieties are highly nutritious; the grains have soft testa and are thus prone to weevil damage.  Poor post-harvest handling of seed by  farmers,  leads to loss of  valuable planting materials.
  • Limited extension personnel, led to insufficient sensitization; on the importance of using good quality seed for increased productivity. Also there was insufficient market information leading to partners not obtaining seed at the time it was requi red.  On the other hand seed ended up in local  markets sold as grain; due to lack of price  differenti ation (innovation platforms offer a solution buy linking buyers and sellers).
  • Limited consumption  methods  led to low utilization of  beans to improve  nutrition,  food and income  security. Therefore  there  is  need  to  facilitate  stakeholders/farmers  to  start  small cottage  industries  to  roll  out  the  development  of  bean  based  products. This  is  currently  a challenge  in  terms  of  equipment,  premises  and  nowing  consumer  preferences  and  meeting them.    It  requires  raising  awareness  on  the  availability  of  bean  based  food  baskets  so  as  to attract a sustainable market and investments in the production.

Lessons learnt
Leveraging,  collaborations  and  synergies  from  donor,  government  and  national  partners  funding was  essential  in  accomplishing  the  major  project  activities  in  the  absence  of  project  funds  other projects  and  partners  can  facilitate  and  lead  to  achievement  of  broader  objectives.  In  Uganda  for example,  one  project  supported the  production  of  seed  while  the  other  supported the  acquisition  of seed. 

Good  weather  is  ideal  and  conducive  for  good  yields.  It  is  very  important  to  diversify  bean  seed multiplication activities in different agro ecological zones to minimize losses. 

Successful  innovative  platforms  require  a  clear  understanding  and  sharing  of  roles  and responsibilities at the initial stage of development. It also requires significant funding and lobbying, therefore selection of participants has to be done carefully.

Targeted communication- It is important to understand the target audience and to establish effective communication strategies or guidelines.  To facilitate moni toring and evaluation of upscaling activities and communicating vital information using appropriate knowledge products.

Promotional materials – Promotion using easy to understand and diverse materials, is important for wider comprehension and adoption of technologies in question.

Regular TOTs with TORs– It is important to train more ToTs for wider information dissemination and also provide them with terms of reference as they disseminate the information to others.

Seed dispersal  mechanisms –  There  is  need to craft  innovative approaches to ensure  more  seed  is used seed not grain and with wider coverage.  Giving a premium price can improve this e.g. in DRC the price of bean seed was 15% higher than the grain. More high quality seed was sold.

Need for  result based M & E with clear or specified data requirements- When conducting M&E clear  checklists  and  guiding  instruments  and  collection  methods/M&E  methods  are  necessary  for consistency. 

Gender Awareness- It  is  important to understand what  issues and they affect  men, women,  youth, children, PWDs etc. and how they can be solved.

Community  bean  seed  producers  have  the  capacity  and  potential  to  supply  affordable  yet  good quality seed of improved bean varieties and can thus bridge  the gap where the formal seed sector is nonexistent. 

Bean based products and recipes were very much liked and highly appreciated for the commercial  opportunities they can offer to the stakeholders and thus need to be vigorously promoted and commercialized for wider usage.


Current situation and future scaling up

The ASARECA projects were regional and the countries shared the generated TIMPs.  The smallest area where the technology was tested was 30 cm2 .  Two plots of this size were required to facilitate rotation of maize and beans per season.  Therefore even the poorest farmer could use this technology because they needed 60cm2 per season. Adoption of the technology does not lead to movement of people or destruction of the environment. The current policy and marketing conditions allow free movement of the technology
from one country to another.  The cross-border scaling up already exists in most of the eastern and central Africa countries.  Therefore, there is no condition that will hinder cross-border scaling up of the improved bean varieties and the associated innovations and management practices.

Currently,  the  producers,  traders  and  consumers  have  begun  accessing  high  yielding,  drought  tolerant, nutritious  and  marketable  bean  varieties.  However,  changing  climatic  conditions  especially  related  to erratic unevenly distributed rains are seriously affecting seed production in the region. Future scaling up is envisaged  to  happen  due  to  linkages  that  have  been  established  among  the  value  chain  actors  through innovation platforms. The  innovation platforms  have  been strengthened and  have  begun to facilitate the uptake  and  utilization  of  different  bean  varieties.    Also  policy  makers  and  development  partners  have become  more  aware  about  the  potential  of  beans  as  a  food  security  and  economic  crop,  and  this  is beginning  to  attract  commitment  of  more  resources.  All  the  observed  positive  impacts  are  expected  to
continue especially after the bean innovative platforms are firmly rooted and functional.


Economic Considerations

Some economic opportunities have been identified which include: farmers involved in internal lending and saving which facilitates linkages, some farmer groups attained good marketing skills and commitment to group marketing, existence of market firms that are willing to engage farmers and increase their presence in the  value chain, some groups demonstrated capacity to source for  funding and a growing  market for bean seed on improved varieties. Private seed producers, farmers’ organizations representatives who were
trained in marketing, business plan development were excited to know how to develop bean business plan and  identify  appropriate  bean  market.  They  planned  to  set  up  their  bean  business  with  climbing  bean varieties, which according to them they seem to be more economically profitable than bush type.

An economic analysis was done to determine the profitability of the potential climbing bean systems. The choice of the climbing bean production system was motivated by the system performance with regard to derived yield and economic return as illustrated in table below.

Table 4: Range of yield and economic return of different climbing bean systems in Rwanda

Climbing bean based cropping  systems Yield (kg/ha) Max economic returns  (Rwf)
1. Climbing bean with cords stakes 780-3,500 607,407
2. Climbing bean with wood stakes 1013-3,467 828,278
3. Climbing bean with maize 367-2,100 1,293,056

Key facts about production of climbing beans

  • Farmers on average use 5354 stakes/acre.
  • Seed costs range from 3000–4000 USh/acre.
  • Stakes can be used for a period of 4 seasons (2 years).
  • Unit cost of a stake was 120 USh.
  • Cost of stakes placement is 46,400 USh/acre
  • Stakes are about 2.5 m in height.
  • The major source of the stakes is local markets and farmers ‘own woodlots
  • Yield of local varieties is 285.4–628.82 Kg/acre but improved varieties yield 3 to 5 times more.
  • Average production cost is about 755,000 USh/acre.
  • Whenthefarmersuseintercropstheyonlyspendontheseedforthetwocropsandthiscuts the cost of production tremendously.

Table 5: Economic evaluation of bean stakes utilization in Uganda

  High land
North eastern/ western
savannah grasslands
Lake Victoria crescent  Western savannah
South western
Production costs
(Low input) (Ush)
775,000 306,000 531,500 461,500 436,500
Average yields
628.81 285.4 314.19 412.25 412.86
Average market
prices (Ush)
1450 1300 1650 1500 1400
Gross income
911,775 371,020 518,413 618,375 578,004
Net Income 136,775 65,020 (13,087) 156,875 141,504


Gender considerations

Previously, beans were considered to be a food crop and a women’s crop. Women carried out all the agricultural activities (digging, sowing, weeding, harvesting, winnowing, and transporting the produce from the farm).  The planting was haphazard and beans would be sown by scattering, in most cases they were also intercropped with several other food crops in unsystematic manner. The introduction of the technology Twungurumuryango / Makutsa 2 has  helped  family  members to work together. Both the  monocropping  and  intercropping  the  variety  have  a  number  of  activities  that  are  systematically organized and inclusive. As a result, all the family members can play a role in the utilization of the technology.  As  the  variety  gets  commercialized,  it  will  contribute  to  agriculture  transformation, increase  income generation  for the  households and  lead to  women and  youth empowerment  in  food delivery, nutrition and income security.


Men, youth and women participate in      Young men are producers of beans       Young men and women drinking bean porridge
making bean-based products


Application guidelines for the users

Application of the bean TIMPS focus on agronomic practices which include:

  • Land  preparation:  This  involves  deep  ploughing  and  field  leveling  at  least  2–3  weeks before the onset of the season rains.
  • Fertilizer  application:  Apply  DAP  at  50Kg/ha  o r   les s  and  20–30  tons/ha  of  well decomposed farm yard manure or less, within the planting rows at the time of planting. Farmers  used  different  combinations  of  DAP  and  manure  based  on  what  they  could afford.
  • Spacing: Use a recommended spacingof5 0cm between rows and10cm (bush beans) or 20 cm (climbing beans) between plants.
  • Sowing: When sowing plant at least 1healthy seed (bush/erect beans) or 2 healthy seeds (climbing beans) per recommended planting distance.
  • First weeding: First weeding should be carried out 2-3 weeks after planting.
  • Earthing up: Earthing up should be done during weeding.
  • Staking:  Climbing  beans  require  staking.    Use  at  least  1  stake  per  4  plants  for  woody stakes (crossed or straight) and 4  plants  per  string  where  woody  frames  and  strings  are  used  or


       Crossed woody stakes                        Plant bark string stakes                        Sisal string stakes


     Straight woody stakes                            Banana fibre stakes

4  plants  per  live  plant  where cassava, banana and maize are used as live stakes (see below).


                                              Climbing  beans  intercropped with maize       Climbing  bean  intercropped  with banana

  • The  frame  is  constructed  by  placing  bigger  poles  between  two  or  more  rows  at  3m  apart  and joining them with smaller poles to facilitate the climbing process. Nails or strings can be used to hold the frame together depending on what the farmer can afford. The distance between beans and the live stake is 25cm.
  • Second weeding: This should be done before maturity.

Key Issues

  • Need to keep farm records on all activities carried out and the expenses involved.
  • Sort the planting material, do not mix varieties and select only good quality seed 


The Burundian farmer cleaning her          Good quality seed                   Unsorted bean grain used by farmers as seed

  • Dig deeply to improve soil aeration
  • Level the garden to avoid erosion and water logging.
  • Use  of  soil  amendments-  apply  both  organic  and  inorganic  fertilizers  in  the  furrows  and within reach of crops (type of fertilizers used depends on the type of market)
  • Plant early in the season to avoid on set of pests and diseases and effects of un favourable weather.


                                          Beans damaged by excessive rains

  • Plant 2 seeds per planting distance for semi-climbers and climbing beans and 1 seed for erect or bush bean varieties.
  • Carry out timely weeding, weed at least twice per season (two weeks after emergence and before flowering).  Create small mounds around the plants to increase the feeding area and to preserve soil moisture.
  • Use of alternative staking methods to avoid environment degradation through deforestation.
  • Use integrated pest and disease management methods to avoid accumulation of pests and pest damage leading to pod and seed deterioration
  • Only harvest mature dry pods. Harvest when the dew has dried from the plants but the sun is not hot to avoid pod shattering.
  • Use appropriate storage methods- clean bags and air tight storage bins
  • Keep farm records to calculate cost benefit analysis.

Live stakes innovations
Under the live crop stakes innovation,  instead of the farmers planting the intercrops at the same time with the climbing beans like they previously used to do, they were advised to first plant the intercrops and then the climbing beans later. The project demonstrated that even in very small plots of 30 m2 or more, planting the  maize  two  weeks  and  cassava  and  banana  one  year  bef ore  planting  the  climbing  beans  makes  it possible for the two intercrops to grow to maturity as long as a recommended spacing is observed for the different  intercropping components. In case of  maize, the project recommended a  spacing of 75 cm  but some farmers preferred to use 100 cm and 25cm within rows and planting two seeds per hole.

Meanwhile, in cassava and banana the between and within row spacing of 1–1.5m (depending on the soil fertility) was recommended. The project also recommended a  bean row spacing of 25cm away  from the row  of  the  other  intercrop  and  50cm  between  the  bean  rows  plus  a  within-row  spacing  of  20cm.  It  is crucial that sufficient space be provided for the beans such that; the bean row spaced at 25 cm away from the maize row and 50 cm from another bean row. Spacing the beans at more than 25cm makes it difficult for  them  to  climb  the  intercrop  (maize  or  cassava  or  banana)  and  thus  the  intercrop  fails  to  offer  the necessary  support.  Each  row  of  the  intercrop  supports  the  two  rows  of  beans  (the  upper  and  lower row).The garden starts with a row of beans, then the  intercrop, then two rows of beans and the row of the intercrop and the sequence continues and ends with a row of beans next to the intercrop. 

Contact details

The TIMPs were achieved under 3 ASARECA managers; namely:  
1.  Dr. Mwamburi Mcharo 2009-April 2012
2.  Dr. Fina Opio May 2012 – February 2013
3.  Dr. Kenneth Masuki March 2013
Supported by a programme assistant: Ms. Maureen Katafiire

Scientists from NARIs, University and Private sector include:
Michael A. Ugen (Ph.D);
Senior Principal Research Officer (SPRO); Cropping System Agronomist/Seed System Specialist
Legumes Research and Development Program; National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO)
National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI)
P.O. Box 7084 Kampala, Uganda
Mobile Phone: +256-772-446-739/+256-712-446-739/+256-756-446739
E-mail: michaelugen@yahoo.com; michaelugen@gmail.com

Paul Aseete;
Socio/Agricultural Economist; National Bean Programme
National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI)  
P.O Box 7084 Kampala, Uganda  
Mobile:+256-78(5) 2 064571 or +256-703937028
Email: paseete@gmail.com

Michael Hilary Otim;
ASARECA TIMPS-Revised Nov 2014  Page 22
Research Officer; National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI)-Namulonge,  
P.O. Box 7084; Kampala – Uganda
Tel. No.: +256-414573016
Mobile:  +256-772897040
Email:  motim9405@gmail.com

Stanley Nkalubo;
Research Officer; National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) - Namulonge,  
P.O. Box 7084; Kampala – Uganda
Tel. No.: +256-414573016
Email: tamusange@gmail.com

Pamela Paparu;
Research Officer, National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) - Namulonge,  
P. O. Box 7084; Kampala – Uganda
Tel. No.:  +256-414573016
Email: bomella@yahoo.co.uk

Hedwig Natabirwa;
Food Biosciences & Agribusiness Research Program
National Agricultural Research Laboratories (NARL -NARO)
P.O. Box 7852, Kampala - Uganda
Mobile : +256-772-609682

Augustine Musoni;
Bean Research Program; Rubona Research Station  
P.O. Box 138, Huye
Tel: +250 (0) 788747932  
Email: afmusoni@yahoo.com or afmusoni2@yahoo.com

Assistant Researcher; Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB); Nyagatare
Mobile: +250-788-252328
Email:  anemugisha@yahoo.com; anemugisha@gmail.com

Dunstan Kaburu Mishek
Principal Agricultural Officer; Ministry of Agriculture (MOA); Meru County
P. O. Box 1705
Meru, 60100 - Kenya
Mobile:  +254-721-271046
Email:  dankaburu@gmail.com

Dr. Gertrude Night
Researcher; Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB)
Rubona Station, Huye District, Southern Province
P. O. Box 138; Huye – Rwanda
Email: gmn27@yahoo.com

Jean BoscoShingiro
Researcher; Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB)
Rubona Station, Huye District, Southern Province
P. O. Box 138 ; Huye – Rwanda
Mobile: +250-788-865789
Email:  bshingiro2000@yahoo.fr

George Ndiema Chemining’wa
Senior Lecturer; Department of Plant Science & Crop Protection; University of Nairobi
Upper Kabete Campus, (CAVS)
P. O. Box 29053-00625; Nairobi – Kenya
Tel. No.:  +254-20-2055129
Mobile:  +254-721-723806
Email:  umchemin@hotmail.com; george.cheminingwa@uonbi.ac.ke

John H. Nderitu
Agricultural Entomologist
Mount Kenya University
P. O. Box 342-00100
Thika – Kenya
Mobile:  +254-722-308581
Fax No.:  +254-20-2050315
Email:  h.nderitu@mku.ac.ke; huria@uonbi.ac.ke

Cecilia M. Onyango
Plant Science & Crop Protection Department; University of Nairobi
Upper Kabete Campus, (CAVS)
P. O. Box 29053-00625
Nairobi – Kenya
Tel. No.:  +254-20-2055129
Mobile:  +254-715-606563
Email:  cecilia.onyango@uonbi.ac.ke; cmoraa8@yahoo.com

Simon Slumpa
Principal Agricultural Research Officer 1
ASARECA TIMPS-Revised Nov 2014  Page 24
Selian Agricultural Research Institute (SARI)
Dodoma Road – Near Arusha Airport
P. O. Box 6024
Arusha – Tanzania
Tel. No.:  +255-736-500538; +255-736-500580
Mobile:  +255-653-057459
Fax No.:  +255-736-500538
Email:  SSlumpa@gmail.com

Paul Kimani
University of Nairobi
Department of Plant Science & Crop Protection  
Upper Kabete Campus, (CAVS)
P. O. Box 29053-00625
Nairobi – Kenya
Tel. No.:  +254-20-2048561
Mobile:  +254-724-511585
Email:  pmkimani@uonbi.ac.ke; imani@nbnet.co.ke

Eunice Zakayo
Principal Agricultural Research Officer (Social Economist)
Selian Agricultural Research Institute (SARI)
Dodoma Road – Near Arusha Airport
P. O. Box 6024
Arusha – Tanzania
Tel. No.:  +255-736-500538; +255-736-500580
Mobile:  +255-752-725110
Fax No.:  +255-736-500538
Email:  eunicereuben@yahoo.com

Sosthenes O. Kweka
Principal Agricultural Research Officer (PARO); Selian Agricultural Research Institute (SARI)
Dodoma Road – Near Arusha Airport
P. O. Box 6024; Arusha – Tanzania
Tel. No.:  +255-736-500538; +255-736-500580
Mobile:  +255-788-831444; +255-755-248480
Fax No.:  +255-736-500538
Email:  msami652@yahoo.co.uk

Nepomuscene Ntukamazina
ASARECA TIMPS-Revised Nov 2014  Page 25
Institut  des  Sciences  Agronomiques  du  Burundi
(ISABU) ; BP 795, Bujumbura, Burundi
Email: ndabanepo@gmail.com

Sylvestre Ntibashirwa
Institut des SciencesAgronomiques du Burundi (ISABU)
BP795, Bujumbura, Burundi
Tel: +257 7751728
Email: ntirabampa2000@yahoo.fr

Vicky Ruganzu
Lead Scientist, RwandaAgricultural Board (RAB)
Tel: +250 788562938
Email: rugavicky@yahoo.fr

Nabahungu N. Léon;
Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) Head Quarter Offices
Tel: +250788422514  
Email: leon.nabahungu@rab.gov.rw

Uwumukiza Beatrice
D.G. Inspectorate  
Services and Certification  
+250788848410, buwumukiza@gmail.com

Captoline Ruraduma
Scientist,  Institut  des  Sciences  Agronomiques  du
Burundi (ISABU)
BP 795, Bujumbura, Burundi

Elukessu Komba
Scientist,Institutdes Nationaldes Etudeset dela RechercheAgronomique(INERA/Mulungu)
Tel: +243 81038081

Jean Albert Mbikayi
Institut National Four L'etude et la Recherche Agronom iques ( INERA )
13, Avenue des Cliniques, Kin-Gombe.
P.O. Box 2037 Kinshasa / Gombe,
Mobile Phone: +243 81 31 78 790 /  +243 99 41 84 842
E-mail:mbikayijeanalbert@yahoo.fr; mbikayi.ja@gmail.com
Skype: nkombikayi


Additional information

In order to realize its full production potential of improved bean varieties and to sustainably improve bean  yields,  the  productivity  of  land  and  labour  have  to  increase,  while  safeguarding  the  natural resources through efficient and sustainable management. The varieties were used in combination with other  innovations  and  management  practices.  Different  packages  were  developed  and  stakeholders selected what was suitable for their conditions in term s of availability of funds, land, labour and local staking materials. The innovations included staking options.  The productivity of land was increased by  employing  climate  smart  agronomic  practices  like  improving  sowing  method,  use  of  high quality  seed,  right  soil  tilth,  use  of  organic  and  inorganic  fertilizers,  soil  water  management, manipulating  planting  dates,  using  more  plants  per  stake,  reducing  pre-  and  post-harvest  losses  using  integrated  pest  and  disease  management.  Productivity  of  labour  was  increased  by  providing farmers with greater access to a wide range of locally available staking materials, time saving staking options and improved production security-drought and disease tolerant varieties.

Some of the staking options used included use of fewer wooden stakes alone (straight or crossed) or fewer woody stakes-frame and strings (sisal or banana), and banana fibres were used.  Farmers were able  to  identify  and  utilize  locally  available  materials.    In  cases  where  farmers  faced  severe  land shortage, the variety was intercropped with maize, banana, and cassava. Under suitable conditions, the variety yields thrice to five times more than the improved bush type and local varieties per unit area. 

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