Beans are important source of protein and micronutrients mostly B vitamins, iron, calcium and zinc.
The crop offers a good source of balanced nutrition for rural households especially the poor who can barely afford animal protein.
Beans can be consumed as immature pods, mature fresh grain or dry beans and its leaves are used to complement carbohydrate diets.
In addition, dry beans are important source of income especially for women and youth. For better yields, farmers should note the following;
CHOICE OF SUITABLE VARIETY
There are many beans varieties grown in Uganda with varying traits for various locations.
The main types of common beans are; Bush bean type and climbing beans, climbing beans are traditionally grown in high altitude areas such as southern western and mountainous areas of Eastern Uganda although they are also becoming popular in low altitude areas.
They require support (stakes), they yield higher than the bush beans.
Planting should be done on the onset of rains. For long rain seasons, farmers may delay planting by two to three weeks to avoid too much rainfall during pod filling stage which may lead to rotting of pods and reduction in yields. Early planting takes advantage of the nitrogen flush effect which is the release of accumulated nitrogen in the soil during the dry season.
Normally, the first season is dominated by planting in March up to Mid-April and harvesting in June-July, while the second season is from Mid-August to December, depending on the area and variety.
SPACING AND SEED RATE (POPULATION DENSITY)
Plant in lines (rows) in order to achieve optimum plant population and also ease field operations such as weeding, scouting for pests and diseases, spraying and harvesting.
Where intercropping is practiced, adjust the spacing as per recommendation. Bush beans can be intercropped with maize, sorghum, coffee, cassava or banana; however, the beans do not grow very well when over shaded.
Various plant spacing combinations can be used in an intercrop. For example; two rows of beans with one row maize at a spacing of 100cm by 25cm for maize and 50cm by 10cm for beans.
Two rows of maize with two rows of beans.
Where climbing beans are intercropped with maize especially for support, beans should be planted 2 weeks after maize, so that the maize stems are strong enough to support the bean plant.
When planting different bean varieties, make sure to maintain a space of 2 meters between plots where each different variety is planted to avoid mixing of varieties.
ATTRIBUTES OF GOOD QUALITY BEANS
(ii) High germination rate-85%
(iii) Well dried to 13% moisture content
(iv) Purity 98%, ensure all seeds are of the same variety
(v) Clean, not mixed with foreign mater like stones or dirt or other seeds
(vi) Not damaged, broken, shriveled, mouldy or insect damaged
(vii) Not rotten or discolored faded
(viii) All non-conformity should not exceed 2%
In case of poor soils, farmers are advised to apply basal fertilizer (Organic and or inorganic) at planting.
Use only recommended fertilizers especially after testing your soils. Compost or animal manure should be added at rate of 2-4tons per acre during the first cultivation on allow for adequate decomposition and any weed seeds carried along to also germinate before the final tilling session prior to planting.
-Office of Agriculture Minister