NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Cultivation of improved varieties of legumes that
include beans, green grams and peas is key to boost food
security and rural incomes in Africa, experts said on Thursday.
The experts, who spoke on the sidelines of the ongoing Africa
Green Revolution Forum in Nairobi, said policy attention,
training and funding were key to encourage African smallholders
to scale up cultivation of legumes.
Kenya’s Minister for Industry, Trade and Cooperatives, Adan
Mohamed, noted that large-scale cultivation of legumes will
offer durable solution to hunger, malnutrition and poverty that
blight African smallholders.
"We need to encourage investments in legumes farming and
reform their value chains to ensure farmers generate sustainable
income from these staple crops," Mohamed remarked.
Cultivation of legumes, commonly known as pulses in
Sub-Saharan Africa, has been constrained by inadequate access to
certified seeds, diseases and pests as well as market
The minister stressed that investment in improved varieties,
value addition alongside better agronomic practices will enhance
production of legumes in Africa.
"Legumes serve as a fallback whenever African countries
experience a shrinking yield in maize and other key staples.
They provide nutrition security to low income groups and are a
major source of export earnings," Mohamed said.
Kenya has developed a roadmap to promote cultivation of
legumes in the face of declining yield occasioned by climatic
stresses, shrinking arable land and high cost of seeds.
The minister said Kenya intends to become a hub for
production and trade in pulses like beans, green grams and cow
Dr. Robin Buruchara, Director with Pan African Bean Research
Alliance at the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT),
noted that legumes can be used for fortification to address
child malnutrition and stunting.
"Currently, legumes are the most traded agricultural
commodities in this region.
"They provide stable incomes to rural women and are a rich
source of iron and zinc," said Buruchara.
He added the nitrogen fixing function played by legumes is
key to boost soil health in Africa.