Beans are annual plants grown for their edible seeds and occasionally for the leaves that are eaten as vegetables. They are one of the most important legumes for human consumption. They are estimated to be the second most important source of dietary protein and third most important source of calories. There are many varieties of beans but in Uganda, the common ones include Nambale, K131, K132, NABE 2, NABE 3 and NABE 4. These are bush beans while the climbing types include NABE (7C, 8C, 9C, 10C) and NABE12.
Traditionally, beans were grown for home consumption but after realising the benefits, bean growing transcended to being commercial. Below are some reasons why you should be grow beans.
Beans have an already market in homes, schools, barracks, hospitals. Besides the local market, the regional market for beans continues to grow everyday. Peace Akatukwasa, a crop pathologist says a target farmer should invest in bean growing because of the growing demand.
“There is growing market for beans across borders in Rwanda, South Sudan, and DR Congo. So, a farmer who is investing in growing beans is better placed,” says Akatukwasa.
In 2014, this paper reported that revenue collected from beans exported to DRC according to market information from Uganda Exports Promotions Board earned the country $1.15(Shs3b) out of the total $ 1.42(Shs3.7b exports.
Unlike most of the crops, beans mature in two to three months. This means that you can accrue the proceeds quickly.
Fixes Nitrogen in soil
Beans are leguminous plants and they fix nitrogen into the soil so besides the other values, beans can help on improving soil fertility.
Not susceptible to diseases
Unlike most crops beans are not easily affected by diseases. “With beans, you can be assured of growing for years without a worry of diseases. But this does not mean you don’t keep watch and monitor any possible disease outbreak and pest attacks,” advises Joy Mugisha, the Quality Control manager Kiziba Community seed bank.
Beans are the least expensive source of proteins and also an easy source of vitamins A, C, KB6 and folic acid. Beans are also a source of minerals such as phosphorous, potassium and zinc, and are high in soluble fiber.
Easy to preserve
Robert Muzira, a research officer at National Research Organisation(NARO) says they are proven affordable indigenous bean preservation methods which include use of wooden ash, cow dung and crushed burnt brick ash.
Quick tips on growing beans
• Dig holes of two to five centimetres deep in rows.
• Sow preferably on onset of rains.
• Put two to three seeds in each hole.
• Thinly cover with a layer of soil.
• Irrigate if you sow before rains
• Monitor weed and insect pests
• Weed between two to three weeks of planting.
• You may apply multi-purpose fertilizer such as NPK.
• Harvest between six to seven