The common bean is the most important leguminous food crop grown in East Africa. It is grown by most small-holder farmers in Machakos and Makueni Counties in Kenya. Beans is generally intercropped with maize and does not receive fertilizer or manure. However, as soils have become depleted of their natural fertility, grain yields have declined. As most soils are deficient in Phosphorus (P), FIPS-Africa has been encouraging farmers to experiment with dressing of their bean seeds with P.
Farmers are finding that the addition of only 25 g of a product to 1 kg of seed can greatly increase their bean yields. This farmer, near Kasikeu in Makueni County, shows her harvest from a small plot experiment using a P seed dressing on the improved early-maturing KATB1 variety. In her left hand is the harvest from the plot without seed dressing. This weighed only 1.4 kg. In her right hand is the harvest from the seeds which had been treated with P. This weighed 2.4 kg. Despite extremely low rainfall during the long rainy season, P seed dressing increased grain yield by 71%!
This farmer is just one of hundreds of thousands of small-holder farmers in East Africa currently benefiting from FIPS-Africa’s Approach. The Approach is helping farmers to quickly and cost-effectively improve their crop productivity and incomes through the adoption of improved crop varieties and improved crop and soil management.