Climbing Beans Reduce Poverty in Uganda

Climbing beans are beans with capacity to climb to a height of up to 4 m. They have a high yield potential and mature within a season. They need support materials and labour to train them on the supports.

Why Grow Climbing Beans

Reasons to sow and cultivate climbing beans include: • Their yield potential is over 5 tons/ha • They fix nitrogen and produce 17-25 tons of leaves per hectare • They have higher net benefit than bush beans.

  • Sticks for staking every plant

  • Posts, wires and/or strings

Importance of Beans

Common beans, scientifically known as Phaseolus vulgaris L., is an important legume staple crop in Uganda. National annual consumption of beans is estimated at about 58 kg per capita.

In 2016, the area planted under beans was 683,120 Ha with a total production of 1,104,770MT.

Volume of beans exported increased from 157,152 MT (2015) to 200,000MT (2017).

Beans production system is predominantly small-scale accounting between 60–90% (on less than 2 acres) with average production of 0.25 tons (250kg) per acre despite potential yield of 700 to1500kg/acre depending on the variety. The system is characterised by low input use especially seed and pesticides with most of the producers using seed from previous harvest.

Beans are an important source of protein and micronutrients—mostly B vitamins, iron, calcium and zinc. The crop offers a good source of balanced nutrition for rural households, especially the poor who can barely afford animal protein. Beans can be consumed as immature pods, mature fresh grain or dry beans and its leaves are used to complement carbohydrate diets.

In addition, dry beans are an important source of income, particularly for women and youth.

Besides, bean is able to fix nitrogen into the soil through its root nodules.This enhances soil fertility and further reduces the amount of nitrogen fertilizer used in bean cultivation and other crops majorly intercropped with beans. When intercropped, it plays many other functions including reducing pests and disease prevalence, weed control as well as controlling soil erosion. It is therefore an important food and nutrition security crop that can be used to enhance the economy of Uganda as well as a means of practicing sustainable climate smart agriculture.

Ecological Requirements

Beans thrives best in a warm climate of optimum growing temperature range of 20 to 28C with a minimum of 15C and a maximum of 32C. Temperatures above 3C and below 15oC will cause poor pod set resulting in yield loss. Bean production is more successful in areas where rainfall is moderate to light during the latter part of growing season. Beans are adapted to a wide range of soils as long as the soils are reasonably fertile, well drained and free of conditions such as saline. An optimum soil pH of 5.8 to 6.5 is ideal for beans production.

Challenges and Opportunities

The bean sector experiences a number of problems at different nodes of the value chain namely; input, production, trading, processing and consumption levels. Major challenges include poor agronomic practices, declining soil infertility, lack of seed from improved cultivars, poor selection of bean seeds (seed mixtures), moisture stress, weed competition, pests and diseases, high post-harvest losses; unstable prices; limited post-harvest handling technologies and lack of storage capacity.

On the other hand, a number of opportunities exist in beans industry including; increasing demand of beans at domestic, regional and international levels; established research institution/ infrastructure to promote bean production in Uganda; availability of a wide range improved bean varieties that are sustainable.

SOWI's climbing beans trial is promising!

Featured Photos: Moses Okeng SOWI ED demonstrating the success of climbing beans, using recycled water bottles drip irrigation.




We invite you to learn more about SOWI Farm Foundation's growth in sustainability and support towards subsistent farmers in Norther Uganda.