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
“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 volatility.
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 peas.
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.