By Umar Nsubuga
Isaac Malinga, a French beans farmer who also exports the crop says several varieties are grown mainly for export, and they are determined by the market preference.
They include Amy, Teresa, Samantha, Julia, Paulista, Vernando, Serengeti, Cupvert, Tokai and Bakara, Monel, Gloria, Claudia, Morgan, Amy coby, Espada, Maasai and Nerina.
According to Malinga, fresh market varieties are Amy, Pekara, Teresa, Paulista, Rexas, Samantha and Cupvert. Varieties for processing include Julia, Vernandon and Sasa.
Malinga says he grows the Serengeti variety because it performed best during the initial trials.
“I also tried the Sultan variety that is popular in Kenya, but it did not do well in Kapchorwa and has shorter pods,” he says.
Both Sultan and Amy varieties did well in Mukono District during his trial phase.
In Uganda, some farmers are growing French beans, but mainly for the local market. However, the variety that has been grown in Uganda is very stringy and tough and doesn’t meet the standard of the export market.
A major outlet for these French beans is the European Union market. And with their weather patterns, the export market in Uganda falls into two major seasons:
The low-demand season runs mostly from June to September every year. It is characterised by lots of supply from those who produce with the long rains and low demand from the EU market as they can produce their own then.
The results from this scenario are one every risk-averse farmer should avoid as prices are usually low. The high-demand season usually runs from September to around March.
During this period, EU markets are faced with winter and their only option is to import and that is when Ugandan farmers find a gold mine.
The major supply during this period is mainly from irrigation hence the supply is typically low. Growing these beans requires a lot of dedication and capital, especially if you are targeting the high season.
There are four major stages which are highly sensitive in the growing process; germination, flowering, fruiting and lastly harvesting.