Improved green grams hold hope for farmers

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For a very long time, farmers have been complaining of the rapid reduction in green grams yields. But now a group of farmers is smiling all the way to the bank. Research institutes like KALRO have been working tirelessly to ensure farmers have green gram varieties with much higher yields than the local green gram varieties.

Indigenous green grams have small seeds with the plants maturing at different times. Most of the time they mature late. Consumers complain that such varieties have a lot of stony seeds, which makes a green gram meal difficult to eat.

The improved variety K26

On the other hand, the improved KALRO variety has large seeds that gives high yields with the plants ripening at the same time. K26 variety also matures early and does well in dry areas. Currently, a bag of green grams goes for Kshs.9,000. The seeds are available at any KALRO office. Farmers need to contact KALRO station near them.

Land preparation and planting

Prepare land early enough so that planting can start when the rains begin. Green grams can be planted alone or intercropped with other crops like maize. When planted alone, sow at 1 ½ ft between rows and ½ ft between plants. One acre of land will require 2 to 4 gorogoros (4 to 8 kg) of seed for planting.

Weeding

The first weeding should be done 3 weeks after the seeds have emerged followed by the second weeding 6 weeks later.

Pests and diseases

Insect pests that attack green grams are bean aphids, bean fly and bruchid weevils. They can be controlled by planting early and practicing crop rotation. The main disease that affects green gram is powdery mildew. You can detect it when you see whitish growth under the leaves. This can be controlled by using certified seed and practicing crop rotation.

Harvesting

Harvest green grams when most of the pods have turned black. You can pick and dry individual pods or uproot the whole plant and dry it for about 2 days, then thresh and clean it.

Storage

You must dry green grams well before storing because bruchid weevils attack the stored grain. It is best to store the grain in covered tins, drums, pots or sealed containers. If you store it in bags, add the ash of neem leaves.

Yields

Average yields range from 1 to 2 bags (90 -180 kg) per acre. If you follow the above steps you can get up to 4 bags (360 kg) per acre. The stalk is good livestock feed.

Apart from planting high yielding varieties of green grams, farmers can increase the productivity of their green gram beans and other legumes by keeping bees in the farms. According to research, total yields in crops can increase by up to 30 per cent through pollination by bees. Avoid the use of chemicals if you want to benefit from pollination services from bees.

Where to get the seed

Seeds can be obtained from Kenya Seed Company, KALRO Katumani, KALRO Kitale. You can also contact your local extension officer for guidance.

Source: KALRO

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