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October 22, 2017

Farmers opt for beans, peas to suit diet needs, weather

Mary Mathuri a farmer from Makueini County has turned to drought resistant crops which are high yielding unlike maize and bean crops.
Mary Mathuri a farmer from Makueini County has turned to drought resistant crops which are high yielding unlike maize and bean crops.

Many smallholder farmers have opted to grow legumes  because of the change in climate and diet to healthier non-meat foods.

Gerald Masila, the Eastern Africa Grain Council executive director, said that over the years, the level of food security has dropped drastically.

“The shift in climatic patterns has led to smallholder farmers adopting hard and resistant crops such as pulses or legumes, including dry beans, cowpeas and pigeon peas, with an annual production of one million tonnes,” he said.

“These pulses are suited to harsh climatic conditions and do well in semi-arid regions such as Meru, Embu, Mbeere, Kitui, Makueni, Homa Bay, Siaya, Busia, Bungoma, Kilifi, Taita Taveta and Kwale counties, which produce significant quantities.”

Masila said pulses require little rainfall, mature in 60-90 days and are nutritious in proteins and oils, and rich in nitrogen fixation for the soil, hence improve soil fertility.

To to raise consumer awareness of the health, nutrition and sustainability benefits of pulses, EAGC, in collaboration with the Agriculture ministry and Meru county, will next month hold a pulses trade fair and exhibition at the Kaguru Agricultural Training Centre.

The trade fair, themed ‘Advancing Pulses Production and Markets’, will focus on the role of sector players in pulses production and trade towards a food-secure country.

Masila urged researchers and policymakers to engage and invest in research related to pulse nutrition, sustainability and food ingredient applications.

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