Naro develops bean varieties to fight hunger in Karamoja
What you need to know:
- Dr Stanley Nkalubo, the head of legume research at National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) , in an interview with Daily Monitor last week, noted that the 20-25 percent iron and zinc components in the beans make them suitable for hunger stricken regions such as Karamoja.
Scientists from the National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro) have developed bean varieties, which they say will solve the problem of hunger and malnutrition in Karamoja Sub-region.
The bean are rich in iron and zinc and can be processed to make flour for porridge mixed with millet and soybean.
Dr Stanley Nkalubo, the head of legume research at National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) , in an interview with the Monitor last week, noted that the 20-25 percent iron and zinc components in the beans make them suitable for hunger stricken regions such as Karamoja.
The scientists at Naro have teamed up with USAID Feed the Future and they have began a campaign in the districts of Kotido, Kabong, Nabilatuk and Abim to roll out the bean varieties.
The coordinator of the programme, Ms Grace Nanyonjo, said they are promoting climate smart agriculture where farmers have been sensitised to multiply the bean varieties for distribution to fellow farmers.
She said they have selected 14 schools in Kotido and seven in Kabong where children have been sensitised to grow the bean varieties on school farms and those at home.
A private food processing company, Supper Kawomera has been contracted to process porridge flour, which is made up of pre- cooked beans, amaranth seeds, soybean and maize. The flour is then distributed in schools.
Ms Nanyonjo said the future plan is to engage the farmers to process the porridge mixture for sale as an income earning initiative.
The scientists said they have engaged Members of Parliament from Karamoja to be part of this initiative.
Naro has also given the mandate to scientists at Nabuin Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Zardi) in Moroto to multiply bean seeds for distribution to the famers.
Mr Abdullah Kaggwa, the programme leader at Feed the Future, during a breakfast meeting in Kampala last Wednesday, noted that they decided to take this programme to Karamoja because the place is food insecure.
The Naro deputy director general-in-charge of agriculture and technology promotions, Dr Sadik Kassim, said since most of the communities in Karamoja value cattle keeping, it is time to change their mind set to venture into crop farming because their land is fertile.
“Scientifically the people are unique and Naro needs to tap that knowledge by changing the society besides the land is good for mechanisation to grow crops such as beans rich in iron and zinc,” he noted.
The chairperson of Parliament’s Committee of Science, Technology and Innovations, Mr Remigio Achia, noted that Karamoja has the green belt area of Napak, Nakapiripirit and Abim, which must be oriented into climate smart agriculture.
He noted that in Namalu and Napak, there are one or two large scale farmers who are growing upland rice and wheat. Since the Karamojong are agro pastoralists, he advised seed distribution to be done during the rainy season.
The Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Dr Mary Gorretti Kitutu, noted that already her ministry is working with the community in agriculture but welcomed the initiative by Naro.
“The partnership with Naro is going to be stronger because the scientists at Nabuin Zardi have now been brought on board to conduct breeding of the iron and zinc rich beans,” she noted.
Dr Kitutu said her ministry has allocated Shs300 million to start the breeding process for the beans and Shs500m to Namalu Prisons who are already engaged in growing the beans and other food crops to supply in schools.