Iron Beans

by Ken Mellish

Makena of Destiny Womens Group had the highest yield of “Iron” beans with a yield of 60kg from her 2 kg of seed.

James, the FHF human nutritionist, reported that she said:

“I am so grateful for Farmers Helping Farmers. Ensure that Teresa knows I am number one.”

The Kenyan Research organization KALRO has released some new varieties of beans. Included in these is the variety Nyota. The variety is reported to have higher levels of iron and zinc than common varieties and also yields higher in low rainfall seasons.

Beans are a very important source of protein in the Kenyan diet and they generally can’t afford much meat in their diet. This also makes sources of iron and zinc very important.

Successful yield

Farmers Helping Farmers, as part of the Global Affairs Canada funded project, purchased 1,000 kg of seed of this variety. These were distributed to members of our partner women’s groups, members of the dairy training groups and schools.

Each of the nearly 400 woman received a 2 kg package of Nyota beans and larger plots were planted at our partner schools. The women were trained on how to plant these beans and the fields were monitored during growth.

The beans were planted in the last growing season which received less rainfall than normal.The beans grew very well and were recently harvested.

Yields typically were reported from 16 to 40 kg from each 2 kg of seed. One woman had a yield of 60 kg from the 2 kg of seed. In this low rainfall season, the Nyota out-yielded the other varieties on the farms.

Credit for this successful initiative goes to the FHF Kenyan staff.

The women report that the families like the taste of the beans even reported them as “yummy”.

Another interesting characteristic is that these beans cook in a much shorter time. We see them advertised as “pre-cooked”. A shorter cooking time would save a lot of valuable fuel.

Saved and replanted

The seed can be saved and replanted if it is kept dry and free from insects. The hermetic storage bags (which are air tight) previously supplied by FHF will be a good place to store these beans.

Staff are planning for a session with each group members after all beans are harvested to advise them on good storage for more seed multiplication and also advise those who had a good harvest to share with neighbours.

Overall a win for everyone, FHF brought a new variety to the community, and the estimated 15 tonnes of beans will provide a lot of food and income, as well as improved nutrition for the families.

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