Notes to broadcasters
The common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) is the most important food legume in the world. It was introduced to East Africa from its place of origin in Central and South America about 300 years ago. In much of East Africa, common bean is grown for both home consumption and cash income. East Africa accounts for more than half of common bean production in Africa. Both the urban poor and rural East Africans who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods eat common beans daily.
Common beans are a popular food in Kenyan households, and are now becoming common among farmers in the country. With the changing weather, Kenyan farmers are switching to drought-and pest resistant crops like beans. The new varieties in the market are popular with consumers and so farmers can earn a little more money when they sell them compared to the old varieties.
Growing and eating common beans has many benefits, including:
Nutrition and food security: Common beans contain a lot of protein, and are rich in vitamins. The young leaves and the bean are both edible.
Livestock: Crop residues are a good livestock feed.
Livelihood: There is a ready market for common beans in Kenya and neighbouring countries.
Benefits to the soil: Common bean is a good source of nitrogen for the soil because of its ability to fix nitrogen from the air. Leaving the roots in the soil after harvest results in an extra 20-60 kg of nitrogen in the soil, which is available for the next crop. This is the equivalent of ¾-2 free bags of urea, and can give the next crop a very good boost. As a cover crop, common bean can help prevent soil erosion.
Yield: With good agricultural practices—including good soil preparation, fertilizers if required, and planting good seed at 30-40 kg/acre—common bean can yield over 800 kg/acre.
This script is based on actual interviews. You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on a similar topic in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.
You could air this program, and follow it with an open discussion (with phone-in and text-in) about growing beans in your area.
Are farmers growing the traditional or new varieties of beans?
What differences are they seeing?
Are they experiencing any challenges growing beans?
Where can farmers get assistance in order to achieve the best yields from their bean crop?
The estimated running time for this item, with signature tune, intro and extro is 20 minutes.
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I get certified seeds from the agricultural office. After planting, I use manure when the plants germinate and again when they start flowering. This prevents bean diseases and pests. We have also been advised to use nitrogen bacteria known as rhizobial inoculant, which we buy from the agricultural extension office. And I sometimes mix the seeds with soil that I previously used to grow beans.
The store is raised off the ground and has some open spaces on the sides to allow for circulation of air and to help drying. I clean the store well before storage since weevils from beans stored in the previous season can hide in cracks in the store. In this way, I can keep my beans even up to one year.
An airtight metal silo has been introduced in our area which keeps off rats and weevils as long as the beans are completely dry. Maybe next season I will try that one.
Contributed by: Winnie Onyimbo, Trans World Radio Kenya
Reviewed by: Mr. Paul Aseete, National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI), National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO).
Loise Chelagat, bean farmer in Bomet County, Kenya.
Dr. Davis Karanja, coordinator of the green legume project at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization.
Interviews conducted on July 21 and August 26, 2016
This work was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada, www.idrc.ca, and with financial support from the Government of Canada, provided through Global Affairs Canada, www.international.gc.ca