New bean varieties grow—and cook—quickly

Uganda: New bean varieties grow—and cook—quickly

Jenifer Nakaye describes her beans as “fast”—both for growing and cooking. The 55-year-old is growing the NABE 14 and NABE 17 varieties, which she will sell to a company that makes “pre-cooked beans” for sale across Uganda.

Mrs. Nakaye farms in Kambugu village, in the Kiboga district of central Uganda. She says, “I started growing beans for pre-cooking because they grow fast. In two to three months, you harvest. They also take less time to cook.”

Pre-cooked beans are beans that have been processed and canned so that after they are purchased, they need only 15 minutes of cooking, unlike traditional dried beans which require two hours or more.

Community Enterprise Development Organization, known as CEDO, is one of the companies that buys beans from farmers for processing. CEDO says there is a good market for pre-cooked beans.

Mrs. Nakaye was inspired to grow new varieties of beans after listening to a radio program called Kalasamayanzi (Agricultural Program), which aired on both Akaboozi FM and Radio Buudu. She learned that varieties like RWR, NABE 4, NABE 14, NABE 17, and ROBA 1 can be used to grow pre-cooked beans for sale.

Because they have a good market, Mrs. Nakaye is confident she will earn a good income from growing these varieties, although she also grows maize, matoke (banana), coffee, and other varieties of beans.

She started growing NABE 14 in March 2016, planting 130 kilograms and harvesting 1,600 kilograms. During the shorter July planting season—when there is less rainfall—Mrs. Nakaye planted NABE 17, harvesting 300 kilograms.

Swaibu Kiweewa is also growing NABE 14, and the RWR variety. In July, he planted 60 kilograms of NABE 14 seed on three acres of land, and 30 kilograms of RWR on two acres. He harvested 260 kilograms in total, earning about three-and-a-half million Ugandan shillings ($961 US), which helped him buy a motorbike.

Mr. Kiweewa says: “Before even planting these beans which are going to be pre-cooked, you can calculate how much money you are going to earn, because the selling amount [price] is already set before the [crop] is ready.”

He saved some of his harvest for eating and some to plant next season, which begins in March. Farmers say they can save the seeds once for re-planting, although agricultural experts advise against recycling these seeds too many times.

Penniah Kyogabirwe is the extension officer with CEDO. Mrs. Kyogabirwe says that pre-cooked beans are a huge advantage for families, as they save cooking time, fuel, and forests. Beans are rich in protein, iron, and zinc, which makes them a good staple food.

Beans are also a reliable source of money for the farmers who grow them. Mrs. Nakaye advises her fellow farmers to put more energy into growing beans, and plans to increase her own bean plot from five to 10 acres.

Mrs. Nakaye is happy that she learned about bean production—including the ready market—from the programs which aired on Radio Buudu and Akaboozi FM. The program also instructed listeners on row planting, weeding, pesticides, and good post-harvest practices for pre-cooked beans.

Last year, Mrs. Nakaye earned 3.9 million Ugandan shillings ($1,071 US) from beans. She is using her profits to pay school fees for her children, build a new house, and purchase more land.