Bean farmers in Kenya can now harvest up to 600kg per acre in just two months, thanks to a new high yielding variety dubbed Kenya Mali or KAT SW-12 launched in the market two years ago.
Kenya Mali, which was bred by researchers from the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and the University of Nairobi is highly resistant to drought due to its deep roots and can grow well in any ecological region in the country.
According to Bio-Innovative Africa, a regional agricultural innovation center, this bean variety has the ability to resist some perennial beans diseases like Angular Leaf Spot, Root Rot, Bacterial Blight and Rust blamed for damaging 25 per of beans yield globally.
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Unlike other beans varieties which takes up to 120 days to mature, Kenya Mali takes half of that, and can, therefore, be grown for more seasons. To cultivate this variety, a farmer needs at least 25kg of certified seed per acre which can be obtained at KALRO Katumani at Sh90 per kilo.
The variety requires loose neutral soils with PH value ranging from 6.5-7. It can be intercropped with non-leguminous crops like maize for support during flowering and requires frequent weeding to eliminate unnecessary competition for nutrients.
Although Kenya Mali can avoid some beans diseases due to its early maturity, a farmer must be ready to deal with perennial pests like bean beetles, aphids and mites which might as well find early food. The bean produces bigger and nutritious seeds than the Mexican variety mostly sought by bean canning companies.
This variety holds the potential to increase beans farmers revenue and perhaps turn Kenya to a net exporter.
According to the 2018 Economic Survey report, production of beans increased by 16 per cent from 8.1m bags in 2016 to 9.4mbags in 2017.