Meet the bean that can save whole communities.
THE GOOD NEWS:
Scientists have developed a nutrient-dense "super bean" to help feed Uganda's growing refugee population.
Beans are one of the greatest sources of protein in Uganda — and they’re eaten daily. The bean crops are particularly important to feeding certain groups in particular need of nutrition, like refugees and children. However, the bean crops have been attacked by diseases, ultimately reducing the crop’s yield and forcing those who rely on them as their main food source to go hungry. What they need is a high-yield bean crop that will survive the harvest and feed as many people as possible.
Enter: the super bean. Also known as Namulonge beans (or NABE), and made by Uganda's National Crops Resources Research Institute, these beans come from bio-fortified seeds and can survive a drought. Not only do they produce a particularly high crop-yield, but they also have a high nutritional value. Namulonge beans are also resistant to a number of the diseases infiltrating the other crops.
Photo by Mabel Amber/Pexels.
These beans are primarily going to feed refugees in camps, people serving time in prison, and children in schools. That’s why it’s so crucial that these crops survive — communities are relying on them. Uganda currently hosts more than 1.4 million refugees, many who have fled conflict in South Sudan. Uganda also has a particularly interesting refugee policy: They provide refugees with land they can farm on and live off.
Right now, the creators of the bean are selling 250 to 300 metric tons of them. One concern is that pests and diseases, which evolve over time, will eventually be able to attack these new plants. In response, scientists are working to come up with new crop varieties, so they can stay ahead of this. Until then, this one “super bean” has still made great strides in terms of feeding Uganda.