The Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) yesterday launched a new research project that will use innovations to increase the quality and quantity of production of beans as a way of ensuring food security.
The three-year project aims at contributing to the achievements and targets of Rwanda’s Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS), the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Vision 2020.
Speaking at the launch of the project, Dr Daphrose Gahakwa, a biotechnologist and deputy Director of Research in the newly created Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), described beans as significant substance that adds health values to the human being compared to other food products.
“Beans play a major role in promoting physical and mental growth associated with protein and micro-nutrient malnutrition, especially among infants, teens and women of the reproductive age groups,” she said.
“Beans are increasingly being recognised as the vegetarians’ meat for both the rich and the poor as they are less correlated to coronary heart diseases and deaths, unlike animal meat.”
Bean consumption in Rwanda averages 60 Kgs per capita — compared to 17 Kgs in other African countries — one of the highest in the world. This makes the diversified nutrients of beans to be unique sources of food security and healthy nutrition.
According to statistics from the Rwanda Agricultural Board, beans are intensively grown on 270,000 - 320 000 ha, or about 22-30 percent of the arable land with annual production of about 290,000 tonnes.
US$ 192,641 has been earmarked for the project, supported by the Association for Strengthening Agriculture Research in East and Central Africa (ASARECA).
Maureen Katafiire, an assistant program manager with ASARECA, said that Rwanda produced positive results from previous support.
“The current support will enable the scientists to scale out accessibility of the innovations that will up-lift livelihoods of the intended beneficiaries – the smallholder farmers in Rwanda,” Katafiire said.
“Farmers are always complaining about the poor quality and high costs of the seeds. What we need is for farmers to have right seeds that are inexpensive, at the right time, to increase productivity.”
Farmers will also be trained on water and soil management as well as control of pests and diseases.
A farmer in the Eastern Province, Odette Nyirahabineza, said. “We are excited about the project because when we don’t have beans in our homes, it becomes a problem,” she explained.