N2Africa’s partnership with DRD (Developpement Rural Durable) has been focused on the production of climbing beans. It has been a fruitful collaboration. Before the partnership, many farmers used only local bean varieties with low production, and with limited skills in agronomic practices, whereas now farmers have adopted improved practices.
Information on legume best practices have been popularized by N2Africa and DRD as follows:
The performance of climbing beans under various treatments was assessed at agronomy trials. A range of successful agronomic practices (for instance disease- or drought-resistant, high-yielding varieties, various fertilizer types and rates and staking practices such as string staking) was then shown to farmers on demonstration trials. Other topics like rotation with maize, soil quality (through biological nitrogen fixation), the production of high quality livestock forage (resulting in good milk production) were discussed on these trials during participatory events. Farmers were then able to evaluate the varieties and practices that were shown and discussed.
A lot of attention was also paid to improve seed multiplication and trade, to turn common beans into a cash crop. N2Africa partners at all levels were trained in different subjects such as biological nitrogen fixation, the use of inoculants, agronomic practices, crop disease, pest control, positive seed selection in the field, post-harvest handling (for instance storage in a Picks bag), marketing and empowerment of women.
Field days, radio talks and JADF (Joint Action Development Forum) meetings were used to scale up dissemination of N2Africa technologies.
All the above activities are in DRDs annual planning, with a focus on two aspects:
(1) Ensuring that activities to enhance productivity of legume crops are fully integrated into national structures, through farmer cooperatives. Seed multiplication and bean productivity will be improved through a partnership with RAB for a supply of seed and inoculants.
(2) Ensuring a sustainable input supply via a bean innovation platform that is called “Rwanda bean corridor” with a wide range of stakeholders: agro dealers (supply of seed, inoculants and fertilizers), bean producers (DRD has a Deputy Chair person place in the Northern for support), consumer groups (hotels, schools, prisons) and stakeholders involved in packaging, trade (local and export).
The platform will endorse commitment of farmers and their adoption of suggested practices with regard to production and marketing, guaranteeing a continuation of N2africa’s impact.
Jacques Hakizimana, DRD coordinator