We all know how beans look and taste. It’s the most popular dish in most Kenyan schools and the dead of teachers during class sessions. This is because beans have a habit of messing up people’s stomachs if not well prepared.
Beans remain a vital source of protein in Kenya and Africa. They are also a great replacement for meat as a source of vegetarian protein. Beans have a number of health benefits, including reducing cholesterol, decreasing blood sugar levels, and increasing healthy gut bacteria.
So how do we grow common beans?
Step 1: Land Preparation
Beans don’t like too much rain. This will lead to rotting and difficulty in harvesting. They also don’t like long dry spells which will strain the crop leading to poor yields. You need to time their growth to be in between these two.
Prepare the land way before the rains knock at your door. All unwanted plants, tree stumps should be removed. Make sure the land is well prepared and the soil looks soft. There is no need of making raised seedbeds. You can just plant them straight in the ground.
Step 2: Choose the right seeds
There are many types of bean seeds available in Kenya. Always get your seeds from a certified stockiest to ensure you get the best quality. If you have seeds that were harvested from your farm or a fellow farmer, make sure you select seeds that are not damaged, diseased, or wrinkled. With good management and choice of the right varieties, a farmer can get up to 12 bags of beans per acre
Beans grow rather fast; you will be able to see the first results of your efforts after only 14 days. Some of the varieties that can be found in Kenya are:
- Chelalang (840-980 kg/hectare)
- Red Haricot (GLP585) “Wairimu” (870-1110 kg/hectare)
- Tasha (625-870 kg/hactare)
- Ciankui (625-825 kg/hectare),
- KK15 (756-900 kg/hectare)
- Canadian (613-672 kg/hectare)
- Rosecoco (560-935 kg/hectare)
Step 3: Planting and Management
Beans should be planted in rows of 50cm by 10cm at a depth of 3-5cm. The recommended seed rate is 24 Kg of beans per Acre
You need to test your soil first before growing your crops to determine the right amount of fertilizer for your farm. However, the standard fertilizer application rate for beans is 1 bag (50Kg) of DAP per Acre.
If you can get your hands on farmyard manure, then your crop yield options will have a nudge of success. This you need 2.5 Tons per Acre.
Weeding starts 2-3 weeks after planting the beans and another round of weeding happens 3 weeks (Just before they flower).
Step 4: Harvesting and Storage
Most beans take an average of 60-100 days to harvest. It’s quite easy to know when it’s time to harvest your beans. You need dry beans so you will definitely wait for the pods to dry up. Make sure to harvest them just before they start shattering their seeds.
Collect all the seeds from the farm and dry them in the sun by spreading them on a canvas/polythene surface. Start threshing them when you feel they have dried up enough.
When all the beans have been dried and threshed, look for airtight bags for storage. Beans like a cool and dry place for storage.
Proper bean farming can guarantee you a good return on your investment with great profits. Beans take 3 months to harvest time which means if you have a good irrigation system, you can grow them all year round.