Project title: Improving consistency of yields and quality of large-scale and smallholder bean production in Kenya by precision management of soil, water and pathogens
The fresh vegetable industry forms a vital part of Kenya’s economy. Kenyan growers export around 60,000 tonnes of fine and runner beans each year, worth £385M at retail sales value, with the UK receiving around 50% of the supply. A consortium made up of Flamingo Horticulture – Dudutech Division, Provenance Partners Ltd (UK), Vegpro Ltd (Kenya), NIAB EMR (UK) and WeatherQuest Ltd (UK) received funding for 3 years as part of the UK’s Agri-Tech Catalyst scheme. The project will deliver new science, technology, knowledge and training to accelerate sustainable intensification of large- and small-scale bean production in Kenya. Work on the project, which started in October 2016 and is to be completed by September 2019, focusses on:
- Developing and adapting irrigation infrastructure, scheduling tools and weather probability forecasting to improve soil water management, yields and consistency of quality;
- Quantifying the effects of soil water availability and continuous cropping on the incidence and severity of soil pathogens targeting bean crops;
- Identifying the effects of novel biocontrol agents on the soil/rhizosphere microbiome to guide the optimum combination of treatments;
- Adopting integrated biocontrol to improve yields, quality and shelf-life;
- Promoting and disseminating the benefits of precision irrigation and biocontrol via outgrower workshops led by Vegpro and Dudutech;
- Assessing the economic and social impacts of project outputs and developing and implementing extension services to outgrowers.
At the end of this project, the consortium expect to deliver a 12% increase in average yield and a 20% reduction in wasted crop, in order to increase food and job security and enhance soil management skills among Kenyan growers.