Tel: +254 (0)20 2271000/ 20

Email: ashc@cabi.org

Tanzania legume campaign planned for 2015

“The next common bean planting-season in Tanzania will take place in October 2015, but it will be unlike any other,” explains Japhet Emmanuel of Farm Radio International.  “This year a consortium of organizations is coming together to put in place a fully integrated campaign with a 16 week radio series at its core.”

James Watiti of ASHC, picks up the story: “There are a number of organizations in Tanzania funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation or AGRA to bring about changes in smallholder farming practice. In the past we have supported each other on a piecemeal basis, but this coming season we are looking at how we can harness our collective energies to achieve change at scale.”

The collaborating organizations/projects are:

  • Africa Soil Health Consortium (ASHC) - to help ensure that there are synergies between different elements of the campaign
  • N2Africa - to ensure that all of the messages developed for the campaign are based on the good science and make good economic sense to farmer
  • Farm Radio International (FRI) – to use participatory radio techniques to put in a place a 16 radio series on all aspects of selecting good seeds/ varieties ,preparing the soil to planting and harvesting the beans
  • Shujaaz FM - to produce 400,000 copies of the comic carrying stories about common bean planting, supported by social media and youth orientated radio
  • International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)/ I-Logix - to recruit 7,500 smallholder farmers and to work with them to develop model demand for seed, P fertilizer and other farm inputs
  • The African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) - to work with agro-dealers to put in place some point of sale material in agro-input stores to help farmers to understand the importance of good agricultural practices  in planting improved bean seeds, applying P fertilizer and herbicide use

Why common beans?

  • Common bean is a nutritious food with high protein content
  • The green pods, fresh and dried beans and in some cases the leaves – are edible
  • The nitrogen-rich crop residues are good feed for livestock or form a good basis for compost – or improve the soil if they are just ploughed in
  • There is generally a ready market for common bean – but whenever we suggest new markets we should encourage smallholders  to check locally who buys and what they pay for different varieties and types of common bean
  • Common bean can be a good nitrogen source for the soil. Common beans work with bacteria naturally found in the soil (called rhizobia) to forms root nodules. The nodules make nitrogen available in a form that is used by the beans
  • After harvest, the nitrogen rich leaves, roots and stems that are left behind will enrich the soil. This means it can boost the next crop – so maize planted after beans should grow well – it is like adding nitrogen fertilizer , for example, urea to the soil

There are some improved varieties available – it is important to check what is available. Improved varieties (see table below) have different qualities, some are:

  • resistant to the common diseases – angular leaf spot, halo blight, rust and bean common mosaic virus (so they can help farmer to remove some of the major risk!)
  • ready sooner – these are suitable for areas with low rainfall, or when planted late in the season (overcoming issues of climate uncertainty or water shortage)
  • higher cropping/yield – and so have a better return on the investment – but these are often slower to mature. Late maturing varieties are less suitable for drier environments, but often produce higher yield and more leaves and stems for use as animal fodder or to plough into the soil (technically this is called biomass – or crop residue)

Use only high quality seed for planting. Seed should be free from insects, disease infestation and weed seeds. Do not use damaged or wrinkled seeds, or seeds with holes. With good practices, including phosphorus fertilizer application and the right varieties, bean yields can high.

Common bean can be a good nitrogen source for the soil. Common beans work with bacteria naturally found in the soil (called rhizobia) to forms root nodules. The nodules make nitrogen available in a form that is used by the beans.

After harvest, the nitrogen rich leaves, roots and stems that are left behind will enrich the soil. This means it can boost the next crop – so maize planted after beans should grow well – it is like adding nitrogen fertilizer or urea to the soil.

There are some improved varieties available – it is important to check what is available.  Improved varieties (see table below) have different qualities, some are:

  • resistant to the common diseases – angular leaf spot, halo blight, rust and bean common mosaic virus (so they can help farmer to remove some of the major risk!)
  • mature sooner– these are suitable for areas with low rainfall, or when planted late in the season (overcoming issues of climate uncertainty or water shortage)
  • higher cropping/yield and so have a better return on the investment – but these are often slower to mature. Late maturing varieties are less suitable for drier environments, but often produce higher yield and more leaves and stems for use as animal fodder or to plough into the soil (technically this is called biomass – or crop residue)

Use only high quality seed for planting. Seed should be free from insects, disease infestation and weed seeds. Do not use damaged or wrinkled seeds, or seeds with holes.

With good practices, including phosphorus fertilizer application and the right varieties, grain yields can high.

Many farmers will grow beans and not know what variety hey are! Different varieties will grow better in different areas

Bush bean

Climbing bean

Bean yield

1,000 to 2,000 kg/hectare can even yield over 6000 kg/hectare

Staking

Don’t need staking as the bushes support themselves Need to be staked with sticks and in some cases ropes

Altitude

Lower and mid altitudes Mid to higher altitude

These are the most commonly available varieties.

Bush bean seed from Northern Highlands -

Variety

Grain characteristics

Grain yield (t/ha)

Maturity period

Suitable altitude metres

above sea level (masl)

Seed rate 40-50 kg/acre. All these varieties are resistant to anthracnose, angular leaf spot, common bacterial blight, halo blight and bean common mosaic virus.

Selian 97

Large, red

   2.0 -3.4

 85 days

 1,000-1,500

Lyamungo 90

Large red, mottled

   2.0-3.5

87 days

1,000-1,500

 

Bush bean seed from Southern Highlands

Variety  

Grain characteristics

Grain yield (t/ha)

Maturity period

Seed rate (kg/acre)

Uyole Njano Yellow, medium sized 1.2-2.2 120 days 80-100
Uyole 96 Red, large sized 1-1.2 105 days 100-120

James Watiti continues: “We are delighted with the way that the plans have come together to pilot an integrated campaign and new elements and additional partners are still being recruited.  The hypothesis we are testing is that change is more likely to happen when you target multiply entry points for information within smallholder farming families.  We are using radio, and that is accessible to women and older people because it does not require literacy. Comics are accessible to young people and we anticipate information within agrodealerships will largely be seen by the heads of households.  We hope that by trying to build knowledge throughout the farming families and the whole community we can create a dialogue and see real changes in farming practice occurring. There are big benefits to be communicated in the campaign that include better food and nutritional security; better soil fertility and improved livelihoods. We also believe that the collaboration between the organizations will bring economies of scale and huge synergies – to the benefit of Tanzania’s smallholder farmers.”

The partners are in the process of raising additional funds to continue this campaign beyond 2015.