Experts call for curbing malnutrition and climate change using beans

Kenya ranks seventh in the world and second in Africa after Rwanda in beans output. The country has a production shortfall of 100 metric tonnes considering consumption is 700 metric tonnes per year while production is 600 metric tonnes.

As a result of climate change, scientists have created new bean types that are drought, insect, and disease resistant, as well as high in zinc and iron.

Caroline Mwenze, speaking during a farmer’s field day, stated that Kieni constituency in Nyeri County is characterised as an arid location with cold and dry climatic conditions, and hence farmers should adapt to growing drought resistant crops.

“Though Kieni is classified in a high altitude area, we don’t receive the rains expected for high altitude crops”, added Mwenze.

She claims that they are venturing into bean planting because beans, which are high in zinc and iron, can help alleviate food insecurity. Climate change, according to Mwenze, is a huge concern in the area, forcing farmers to accept low-attitude crops.

Dr Beatrice Kaige of the Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) agrees with Mwenze that they chose beans because of their availability and the two import nutrients.

According to Kiage, stunted growth affects almost one-third of Kenya’s population, and children living in such conditions have an 11% lower cognitive quotient, a concerning trend given that when they grow up, they earn 22 per cent less than other adults.

“As a country, we cannot develop with the issue of stunted growth being with us and that’s why we looked into solving this issue by using beans as every household consumes this crop. We came up with bean varieties with high values of zinc and iron which include; Nyota, Faida, Angaza, Cheupe among others,” Kiage expounds.

She concurs with Mwenze over the bean varieties being drought, pest, and disease tolerant, “These beans grow within a shorter period of time hence drought tolerant,” she says.

Kiage says we can cover the deficit of 100 metric tons by encouraging Kenyans to consume more beans which will in turn increase productivity hence empowering farmers.

Agatha Wamuyu a bean farmer from Kieni constituency says that she was planting the Warimu variety of beans before she changed to Nyota and harvested 70Kgs in an acre of land and due to drought she didn’t get what she expected, 8 bags of 90Kgs.

“This season am planning to plant the Angaza bean variety. These bean varieties cook faster compared with other bean varieties,” she adds.

Githinji Wanjuki another bean farmer who has embraced Ziron bean varieties, says the varieties don’t require much water and he calls upon intervention by governments to sink for them water pans.

“I would do 2-3 acres of beans, Mwitemania bean variety before climate change hit us, I paid my bills using monies from beans,” he said.

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