Lead farmers and extension workers from Laikipia and Nyeri counties, with last month, participated in an exercise to select bean variety for the first time in the history of KALRO bean research.
Variety selection is a critical step in assisting breeders in releasing varieties demanded by farmers and consumers and kicking off the process for National Performance Trials and formal variety releases of selected bean varieties.
The exercise provided the trainees with a large selection of bean varieties to choose from for subsequent analysis to identify their preferred bean varieties. Out of the bean varieties, the farmers selected the best and worst varieties based on the attributes they would like to have on a bean variety. The farmers then filled questionnaires to present the reasons for their choices of selection. Facilitators and enumerators guided the exercise but remained impartial i.e. did not influence the decisions of the farmers.
This was part of rigorous seven-day training for trainers on all aspects of the dry bean value chain. KALRO scientists led by value chain leader Dr. David Karanja equipped 40 participants from Nyeri and Laikipia counties with knowledge and skills in bean production, marketing, and consumption.
Dr. Karanja said for breeders, farmer access to quality seeds of better-adapted varieties is of utmost importance. He added that was solely the responsibility of public research institutes and universities, they cannot work in isolation.
Since farmers were the ultimate decision-makers, on whether or not to adopt a particular variety it was imperative to include farmers’ knowledge for the selection of promising varieties to get higher adoption rates.
For this reason, said Dr. Karanja, KALRO works closely with farmers and key stakeholders to develop varieties adapted to overcome adverse climatic and agricultural conditions.
While addressing the trainees, KALRO’s Deputy Director in charge of crops research said the economic losses due to malnutrition are estimated at Ksh 352.1 billion representing 6.5% of the GDP. In addressing this challenge, a multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral approach is required.
“On its part, KALRO and its partners have been undertaking research and have released four (4) high iron and zinc beans to the farming community. These varieties are high yielding, with good consumption qualities and can be used for industrial processing”, said Dr. Makini
Mr. Evans Karani, the farmer from Laikipia county, said that they used to plant local bean varieties but since the county through the KCSAP project introduced hybrid varieties they have benefitted a lot “We were given twelve different varieties to plant for demonstration, and out of them, the best was Nyota variety” After the training, I am more experienced, I will train my fellow farmers so that raise our economic, I will only urge other farmers to used certified seed to realize the benefits of bean farming” said Karani.
Low productivity owing to drought, inadequate agronomic practices, low yielding varieties, restricted access to agricultural inputs, and poor seed and fertilizer use continue to be a barrier for economically competitive dry bean operations.
KALRO and other partners have developed several technologies, innovations, and management practices (TIMPS) to address climate change concerns facing beans farming. With the backing from the World Bank and Kenyan government, KALRO has scaled up and promoted the TIMPS through the KCSAP project.
The goal is to give climate-smart agriculture (CSA) knowledge, information, and skills to extension service providers to further train farmers and other field-level stakeholders on appropriate agricultural practices to improve productivity, income, and livelihoods.
By Lilian Cheruiyot