Growing Beans To Help Combat Malnutrition In South Sudan

Researcher, Anna Itwari Felix at her research field. [Gurtong | File]

Mrs. Itwari, currently Director General in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Cooperative and Rural Development in Eastern Equatoria, notes that the four; Protein, Vitamin A, zinc and iron, are the most notable nutrients whose deficiencies cause severe morbidity and mortality rates worldwide affecting learning and productivity.

According to her, hidden hunger is caused by lack of essential minerals and vitamins in the diets of people that feed mainly on starchy foods.

Zinc and iron have been identified as the most limiting nutrients in the diets of people who depend mainly on staple foods.

She says that prevalence of acute malnutrition in South Sudan is 14.5-22 percent higher than the World Health Organization (WHO) cut-off of 15 percent for nutrition emergencies.

These are the highest malnutrition rates ever reported in Africa and in the world at large; as such endemic malnutrition has necessitated severe malaria 61 percent, diarrhoea 45 percent and pneumonia 35 percent.

The Researcher has just sought support on adoption of bean growing.

She has noted that bean growing is not a common practice to indigenous farmers in the country.

She says that farmers in South Sudan practice mixed crop farming and harvests from such a cropping system are difficult to quantify and therefore, growing beans as sole crops, intercrops require precondition lessons.

Mrs. Itwari reveals that a viable bean research program is necessary.

The researcher has further concluded that most of the beans sold and consumed are imported from neighbouring countries in East Africa.

She narrates that generally, farmers are unable to access bean seeds and have limited management practices and information.

Mrs. Itwari elaborates bean growing is a source of income and bean is termed a woman’s crop, because it is very friendly to grow.

Returnees come with improved skills and knowledge in agro business and this will favour production of beans for marketing in South Sudan.

“Beans are concentrated protein foods that are storable, transportable and consumable in both rural and urban society. They contain dietary fiber (15.2 percent) and 4.8 percent crude fiber which aid in the control of renal, colon cancer and coronary heart diseases,” she says.

The carbohydrates in beans are of slow release and greatly reduce obesity by lowering blood cholesterol.

She further notes that one of the main specific objectives of her study is to determine the growth, performance and adaptation of bean genotypes in agro ecological zones in South Sudan; ironstone plateau, green belt and semi arid zones.

Mrs. Itwari says determining effect of intercropping different varieties of sorghum and beans on pest infestation in the three agro ecologies in the region remains her key goal including verifying effect of farmyard manure and inorganic fertilizers on selected sorghum and bean genotypes under an intercrop system in three zones.

Additionally, the researcher has recommended that determining nutrient contents of iron and zinc in the seeds and leaves of beans, will require offering training sites for bean integration and multiplication of farmers in South Sudan.

She also noted bean varieties are adaptable to agro ecological zones in South Sudan while selected Sorghum varieties are suitable for intercropping identified but a new scientific knowledge on agronomic performance of beans and sorghum in agro ecological zones across South Sudan is still being compiled and published.

Mrs. Itwari has disclosed that over 5,000 farmers across South Sudan have been trained in bean systems management, a move according to her has help improved farmer practices and pest mitigation over the three years.

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