Steamed beans save cooking costs

Beans photo by CIAT.JPG

A farmer winnows beans. CIAT and other partners have come up with 12 beans varieties cooking within 15 minutes. Photo by CIAT

Consumers and bean traders will soon be spending about 100 minutes less in cooking the delicacy with the 12 newly released varieties from the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture, CIAT.

The precooked bens are subjected to steam before packaging for sale. The beans are ready for consumption in about 15 minutes.

After harvesting, the beans are subjected to boiling water that is releasing steam. The boiling water does not get into contact with the beans otherwise they will cook. The steam precooks the beans before packaging for the market.

The traditional beans take about two hours to cook. This duration becomes prohibitive for low class families who cannot afford the fuel to sustain the continued cooking.

CIAT says within the 15 minutes, consumers will require fuel of about Sh47 for one kilo of the beans.

This is a fairly affordable cost for most families. Beans are common delicacy in urban areas, where traders mix it with maize to prepare githeri or pure, in Swahili. The bans are also an accompaniment for other foods like rice, Irish potatoes, leaf vegetables, among others.

The beans will cut the cost to these ready to consume food traders.

For the families, which were prohibited from consuming beans regularly to supplement proteins and other minerals, cooking within 15 minutes will be a cheaper cost than the two hours spent on traditional varieties.

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Besides proteins, the leguminous crop is rich in zinc, iron, calcium, selenium, among others. Fast cooking may help fighting malnutrition in low income families.

Various companies across Africa have been engaged to produce the seeds for the farmers. CIAT says about 10,000 farmers are already growing the varieties across the continent.

United Nations' food agency, Food and Agriculture Organisation, says more than 400 million people depend on beans in Africa. 

After harvesting, the farmers are expected to deliver the beans to  factories for processing and packaging.

Snack beans are also been developed alongside the precooked varieties. The beans only require salting and they are ready for consumption.

The programme of supporting the farmers is being rolled out in sub-Saharan Africa countries.

Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO), Lasting Solutions, National Agriculture Research Organisation of Uganda are some of the partners in the project.