BioDesign

New ways of helping Africa's poorest farmers 

 Growing Jack beans as food

Many small farmers are losing their crops due to bad weather and locusts!

 Here is one-way to rapidly grow protein-rich food

 

Growing Jack Beans

This project was started as so many small farmers were complaining of failed crops and resulting hunger. 

Eventually it was decided that in many cases the soil needed fertilising and the best and cheapest way of doing that is usually to grow a legume cover crop. It is much simpler than the usual conservation agriculture technique which requires mulch and expert training.

One of the best legumes for this job is the Jack Bean. Not only does it fertilize but it has deep roots that break up soil pans and this helps to hold water for long periods. 

Some farmers, when they had sold their first harvest of Jack bean seeds, bought leguminous saplings and planted them as a first step to an agro-ecological farm as well as means of storing carbon dioxide to minimise climate warming.

The first JB sowings were done during unusual weather when many maize crops had failed and some farmers were again going hungry. It was discovered that mature Jack beans, though having toxins, could be eaten providing they were well cooked. Then it was found that one could eat the young leaves and pods with or without cooking only a few weeks after sowing. With bad harvests and now the pandemic many farmers are forced to eat little else! 

Farmers have noticed that wandering animals are deterred from eating the JB leaves as are also insects including the Fall Armyworm! In some parts locusts have destroyed main crops but left jack beans untouched! Once again there is little else to eat. 

In some countries it can be difficult to find jack Bean seeds and Velvet beans can be used instead but we have few detailed reports yet.