Why bean seeds matter in times of COVID-19

Why bean seeds matter in times of COVID-19

22/04/2020
in News
Djalou Franco
Djalou Franco
Senior Agribusiness Advisor

The COVID-19 pandemic, besides a global health crisis, is also a challenge for food and nutrition security. Having a sustainable and resilient food system in place that can ensure the supply of healthy food during a crisis, is a privilege that few cities around the world enjoy.

One city where the situation regarding food shortages needs close following up is my hometown Arusha, one of Tanzania’s biggest cities.

People should not have to choose between their health or their food.

One thing is clear: People should not have to choose between their health or their food. At Rikolto, we are therefore working hard to ensure the supply of healthy and nutritious food. In the past two weeks, we have focused on promoting the pulses production in Arusha’s surrounding regions. Beans are highly nutritious and very much loved across Tanzania. While massive production of pulses is more important than ever to assume food security in Tanzania during the corona crisis, the last two seasons have been devastating for pulses farmers.

First, they faced a terrible drought, which was then followed by extreme rainfall. Several failed harvests lead to a big problem: farmers have not been able to find quality seeds. That’s why I reached out to a Tanzanian company called Crop Bioscience Solution ltd. Together we want to ensure that enough quality seeds are available to the farmers.

Through this partnership, 34 acres of land are used for seed production by 14 farmers, multiplying 1.2 tonnes of quality seeds into 20.4 tonnes. To increase the involvement of women and youth in seed agri-enterprises, 25 acres are managed by 5 women and 5 young people in Dareda. They have already started producing quality declared seeds.

What is also important to me is that this operation is not just a one-off donation of 1.2 tonnes of seeds, but it has a strong business case behind it. For every 35kg of seeds given to the farmers, they will be able to harvest 600kg of seeds, of which they have committed to give back a 100kg bag for further circulation in the farmer groups. The other 500kg can be used on their farm or sold to financially strengthen their businesses. In this way many more farmers and communities can benefit!

For every 35kg of seeds given to the farmers, they will be able to harvest 600kg of seeds, of which they have committed to give back a 100kg bag for further circulation in the farmer groups.

I’m really proud of the partnership we set up in such a short time span. At the end of this month, we will evaluate the first phase. If all went well, we will upscale this project with another 50 acres for seed multiplication and train 800 farmers in postharvest handling to improve bean quality in the next phase.

Want to know more about this initiative? Reach out our colleague:

Djalou Franco
Djalou Franco
Senior Agribusiness Advisor