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Ugandan Scientists Breeding Easy-To-Cook Beans

by Wangah Wanyama
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Ugandan legume scientists are carrying out research on beans that can be cooked under 40 minutes in a move aimed at saving the environment.

This was revealed by Dr. Clare Mukankusi, a legume scientist, who is leading the team that is carrying out the research at the National Agricultural Research Organisation in Kawanda, Wakiso district.

“Our aim is to reduce on the cooking time by 30%. The idea is to save fuel and ensure that people spend less time cooking beans. We also want to save people from the other dangers such as smoke inhalation during the cooking process,” she said in an interview with New Vision.

Mukankusi, a senior scientist from the Alliance of Biodiversity International and International Centre for Tropical Agriculture, said they are in the second cycle of the research that may take five years.

“We are in the second cycle and expect to have the beans after five cycles. Each cycle is about one-and-a-half years,” Mukankusi said, adding that the beans will be like the Nambale type that it on the market, only that it will have reduced cooking time and other improved features.

“It will be something that Ugandans love to eat but with better traits,” she said.

Steven Musoke, a research assistant at the NARO station in Kawanda, said the beans are not GMOs.

“We breed through the natural process. Because beans are self-pollinating, we manually move pollen grains from one parent plant to another in order to get improved lines. These are not GMOs. We just quicken the natural process. Most of the beans consumed in Uganda have been bred here,” he said.

As per 2021 statistics, Uganda is the second leading producer of beans in Africa after Tanzania. In 2021, Tanzania produced 1,341,000MT under the area of 899,980ha while Uganda produced 0.9 million tonnes from 0.67 million hectares.

Beans are consumed in large quantities by Ugandan institutions such as schools, health centres, prisons, Police and the army.  Although beans are widely consumed in Uganda, they leave a trail of destruction on the environment as a lot of fuel in form of firewood and charcoal is required to cook them. On average, ordinary beans take 60-120 minutes to get ready under normal cooking conditions.

Dr. Clare Mukankusi explaing the progress so far

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