Date Published: July 01, 2018
Author(s): E. Ronner, K. Descheemaeker, C.J.M. Almekinders, P. Ebanyat, K.E. Giller.
•Climbing beans were more widely grown in southwestern than in eastern Uganda.•99% of the farmers adapted the best-bet climbing bean technology.•On average, farmers used half of the improved climbing bean production practices.•Use of practices by individual farmers was not consistent over time.•Diversity in use of practices complicates measurements of adoption.
The East African highlands are densely populated, and decreasing farm sizes and declining soil fertility status require agricultural intensification to sustain food production and avoid encroachment into forests (Benin et al., 2002, De Bauw et al., 2016, Sassen et al., 2013). The integration of legumes in farming systems provides a pathway for sustainable intensification of agriculture (Giller and Cadisch, 1995, Snapp et al., 2002b). Common bean is an important staple crop in many East African countries and a source of protein, calories, minerals and vitamins. Climbing beans offer potential to intensify bean production compared with bush beans, with yield potential being their greatest advantage: up to 4–5 t ha−1 (Checa et al., 2006) versus 1 to 2 t ha−1 for bush beans in Uganda (Kaizzi et al., 2012). Climbing beans are also more resistant to fungal and root rot diseases (Mcharo and Katafiire, 2014), and have a better potential to fix nitrogen (Bliss, 1993, Ramaekers et al., 2013, Wortmann, 2001). Improved varieties of climbing bean were introduced in Rwanda in the 1980s (Sperling and Muyaneza, 1995) and were rapidly adopted, particularly in the highlands of northern Rwanda. Climbing beans spread from Rwanda to neighbouring countries such as Burundi, DRC and Uganda in areas above 1600 m above sea level (masl) (Franke et al., 2016).
An average of 70% of the farmers continued the cultivation of climbing beans in the season after participation in an adaptation trial. Poor weather conditions and a lack of stakes or seed were the most frequently mentioned reasons for discontinuation of climbing bean cultivation, of which only the lack of stakes can be considered a negative attribute of the technology itself. Staking is a common constraint for climbing bean cultivation, and although alternative staking materials were demonstrated to farmers in this study, their poor uptake does not suggest that this constraint can easily be overcome. The lack of seed requires specific attention for seed systems for (improved) climbing bean varieties.