NARO Beans bring smiles to Farmers in Oyam

At the beginning of the first rainy season in Oyam, March 2024, the Foundation for Inclusive Community Help (FICH), in partnership with Peace Corps Uganda, through its VOICE program, embarked on a mission to combat malnutrition and improve health outcomes in rural communities. Together, they distributed NARO Beans 1 and 6 to women’s groups in Akongatar, Alidi, Ongor, Ajalo, and Aloni. These women were tasked with multiplying the new bean varieties to fight malnutrition and enhance their families’ general health.

Women receiving the NARO beans and orange sweet maize seeds for multiplication

Greg Ripke, a Peace Corps volunteer working with FICH, reechoed the call during a monitoring visit to assess the beans’ performance. “These beans are drought-resistant and rich in iron, making them particularly suitable for pregnant and expectant mothers,” he explained. “I am happy to say they performed better than the maize we tried last year, which failed due to lack of rainfall.”

Greg Ripke leads Peace Corps team to one of the gardens where the NARO bean is thriving

At Ajalo, Betty Ekirin expressed her satisfaction with the beans. “These beans have proven to withstand the unpredictable weather and climate,” she said. “We are going to fight poverty and hunger, and our expectant mothers will benefit greatly.”

Jenet Anyango, another beneficiary, shared her excitement. “It took less than two months for the beans to mature, and the yield is impressive,” she said. “I plan to multiply these beans because they are far superior to the traditional ones I used to plant.”

Prior to the introduction of NARO beans, these women’s groups were given orange-fleshed sweet potato vines to supplement their efforts in combating malnutrition in the rural communities of Oyam district.

NARO Beans 1 and 6 are specifically bred to withstand the increasingly challenging climatic conditions faced by farmers across Uganda. These varieties were developed after extensive consultations with farming communities to ensure they meet specific needs. High yield was a top priority, not forgetting drought tolerance and resistance to pests and diseases. These beans are biofortified with iron and zinc to improve nutrition.

Jenet Anyango speaks about the traits of NARO beans to Peace Corps Team

NARO Bean 6 and other varieties were developed through a partnership between the National Agricultural Research Organization of Uganda (NARO) and scientists from the Alliance of Bioversity International-Centre for Tropical Agriculture’s Pan-African Bean Alliance (PABRA).

Compiled by Jaspher Okello

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