UK newspaper The Guardian has just run a 10-picture feature on the successful work of the Rwanda Agriculture Board, CIAT and a host of partners to develop and release improved climbing beans in Rwanda.
Rwanda is already running out of land, and by 2100 the United Nations predicts that the current population will almost quadruple. This means sustainable intensification of food production is essential in this landlocked East African country, and climbing beans might just prove to be one of the solutions. By virtue of growing upwards, instead of sprawling across the ground like the more commonly-grown bush beans, “climbers” make excellent use of limited space, and can produce yields three times higher than bush beans.
The work has seen the release of many varieties adapted to the prevailing conditions in different parts of Rwanda, including varieties with higher concentrations of iron and zinc to help tackle rural malnutrition. It has transformed beans from a subsistence crop to a cash crop, and Rwanda is now a bean exporter.
A CIAT impact assessment on climbing beans in Rwanda, and neighbouring Rwanda, is due later this year. We’ll bring you more on that as it happens, but in the meantime, you can see the picture feature here:
The climbing bean work in Rwanda involves and depends on the support of many partners. These include:
Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA); Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Central and Eastern Africa (ASARECA); the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Swiss Development Corporation (SDC) are key donors to the Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA), which oversees the East and Central Africa Bean Research Network (ECABREN); USAID, supports the Dry Grain Pulses Collaborative Research Support Program (CRSP) Projects ; the Government of Rwanda. Work to improve the nutritional quality of the beans is led by HarvestPlus (coordinated by CIAT and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).