A smallholder farmers harvesting beans from her farm
Beans are an important food crop in Kenya. Most farmers plant beans together with maize in what is known as mixed farming. Farmers grow many bean varieties in different parts of Kenya for subsistence and commercial purposes.
Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Organization National Coordinator for Grains and Legumes David Karanja observed that there are new bean varieties suitable for Trans Nzoia, West Pokot, Keiyo & Marakwet areas of Rift Valley. “Many farmers have been planting bean varieties which give low yields” added Karanja. To get higher yields, farmers are advised to grow the following bean varieties in North Rift Valley.
The varieties can be obtained at the Kenya Agricultural Research and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO)
1. Mwitemania (GLP x 92)
- Yields up to 4 bags per acre when grown with maize.
- Farmers and scientists found that a profit of 3 shillings can be made for every shilling spent on growing Mwitemania.
- Has many leaves, which protect flowers 'from too much rain or sun.
2. Red Haricot (GLP585) "Wairimu"
- Gives good yields even with a lot of rain.
- Good for githeri.
- Sells well in the market.
- Easily attacked by root rot disease.
- Withstands root rot when compost or farmyard manure is used as fertilizer.
- Gives good yield when planted in rotation with other crops.
3. Old Mwezi Moja (GLP 1004) "Kifuu mrefu"
- Gives good yields even with little rain.
- Matures early, allowing farmers to plant sweet potatoes in between maize.
- Gives food during the hunger months (July and August).
LOWER RAINFALL AREAS e.g. Sebit in West Pokot District (Bean root rot disease is absent in these dry areas).
1. Old Mwezi Moja (GLP 1004)
- Gives 4 bags per acre when grown with maize.
- Does well even with little rain.
- Matures early to give farmers food, while waiting for maize to mature.
- Gives a profit of 2 shillings for every shilling spent on its production.
2. Red Haricot (GLP 585) "Wairimu"
- Good for githeri.
- Sells well in the markets.
3. Rosecoco (GLP 2)
- Yields up to 3 bags per acre when grown with maize.
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HOW TO PLANT MAIZE & BEANS
- Get clean seed for planting from known seed suppliers in your area.
- Prepare land early before rains start.
- Plant maize and beans at the same time, for higher yields.
-Space maize rows 2.5 feet apart, with either 1 or 2 feet between the maize holes
- Place 1 maize seed per hole with 1 foot between each hole.
- Put 1 soda bottle top of DAP or 1 handful of well-prepared manure per maize hole.
-Put 2 soda bottle tops of DAP per maize hole. Cover the hole with a little soil before placing the seed on top. Instead of 1 bottle-top of DAP you can also use 1-2 bottle tops of 20:20:0 or 23:23:0 per hole.
- Plant 1 row of beans between 2 rows of maize with 2 bean seeds in each hole, and 6 inches between holes.
- Put a pinch of fertilizer or handful of good manure in bean holes.
- Weed 2 to 3 weeks after germination.
- If necessary, do a second weeding before beans produce flowers.
- Do not weed or walk through a flowering bean field.
Bean stem maggot can reduce yields in most areas. It is severe within the first 3 weeks after germination. Leaves of affected plants usually turn yellow while the stems become swollen. Control bean stem maggot with Diazinon. Mix 1/2 teaspoonful of Diazinon with 4 teaspoonsful of water in a clean plastic container. Add to 1/2 gorogoro of beans, mix thoroughly and leave to stand overnight. Wash thoroughly after working with chemicals. Wear protective clothing and gloves while mixing and planting. Wash hands properly after using insecticide. Apply compost or farmyard manure to improve soil fertility and to reduce the bean stem maggot problem.
Bean root rot is a severe disease in the Kitale area, especially in less fertile soils. Roots of affected plants dry up, causing the whole plant to turn yellow and die. Compost or farmyard manure improves soil fertility and reduces root rot damage.
Harvest your beans as soon as all the pods turn yellow. Mwitemania rots easily if not harvested at the right time. You can tell when beans are dry by the loud, sharp noise they make when dropped on dry ground. Dry beans should be stored in a clean dry containers or sacks, and treated with a storage insecticide such as actellic (50 g in a 90 kg bag of beans). Mix well before closing the container or sack.
Additional information obtained from KALRO Website