By Umar Nsubuga
French beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), also known as snap or green beans, are a major export crop.
Interest in the crop is fast-growing for both fresh consumption and processing (mainly canning and freezing). French beans contain protein, fat, calcium, iron, phosphorus, vitamins A, B, D and starch.
French beans grow well in lower midland to lower highland zones of altitudes ranging from 1500-2100 metres above sea level.
Isaac Malinga, a famous French beans grower based in Kapchorwa district says rain-fed cultivation is possible in areas with well-distributed, medium to high annual rainfall of 900- 1,200mm per annum.
He says the various varieties are grown mainly for export, and they are determined by market preference.
According to Malinga, they include Amy, Teresa, Samantha, Julia, Paulista, Vernando, Serengeti, Cupvert, Tokai and Bakara, Monel, Gloria, Claudia, Morgan, Amy coby, Espada, Maasai and Nerina.
The other varieties for processing include Julia, Vernandon and Sasa.
He says at his farm, 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 explains.
Henry Sekyewa an agronomist says both Sultan and Amy varieties did well in Mukono District during the 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.