Farmers’ practices and value chain of climbing bean production in South Western Uganda

MSc Internship report

The N2Africa project in Kisoro, South Western Uganda



From October 2013 till January 2014 we were in the South-West of Uganda for our internship to do research on climbing beans (CB). N2Africa is cooperating with smallholder farmers in Kisoro district to enhance the CB cultivation. The first aim of our research was to compare farmers’ practices of the N2Africa farmers with the non-N2Africa farmers, in terms of inputs (especially labour, seeds and stakes) and outputs (yields). The second aim was to identify the different actors in the climbing bean value chain specifically for Kisoro and to map the relationships between these actors. To answer these research questions, interviews and field measurements were conducted, which led to the following findings.

N2Africa demonstrated treatments with fertilizer, manure and inoculants, which non-N2Africa farmers never apply to CB. Furthermore, N2Africa used a higher plant spacing than what is common in Kisoro, and planted the CB in rows, while non-N2Africa farmers broadcast or plant the seed randomly. N2Africa farmers were instructed to weed regularly, which most farmers did up to three times during the season, while non-N2Africa farmers usually only weed once. The majority of the farmers mentioned that stakes are a problem, since they are expensive due to their high demand. Unfortunately, the harvest data are not known yet. Due to a lot of rain in January the harvest was delayed. A cost and benefit analysis was made, which mainly focussed on the inputs for CB production.

To address the second objective, actors in the CB value chain were mapped in Figure 3. Furthermore, a SWOT analysis was made; the strengths of the CB are its high productivity, capacity to increase soil fertility, high market demand, and high nutritional value. Weaknesses are the price of staking material, labour intensive cultivation, CB sensitivity to heavy rains, marketing challenges, and challenges in the dissemination of knowledge. Opportunities include the introduction of different staking methods and materials and improved bean varieties. Furthermore, it is suggested to experiment with lower planting density and planting trees for stakes, and to improve erosion control. Other opportunities, related CB marketing, are improving the bargaining position of farmer groups, contracting supply and demand, niche specialisation and adding value to the product. Current threats are the low availability of staking material, declining soil fertility, pests and diseases, climate change and fragmented farm area.

Mirjam S. Breure and J. (Hanna) Kool
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Uganda, climbing bean, value chain, demonstration, trial, field book, field management, farmers' practices, costs benefit analysis, labour, SWOT analysis, opportunities, staking