Volume 2 No: 20_2018: Innovation Opportunities in Bean Production in the DR Congo

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The common bean, Phaseolus vulgaris, is the most important pulse food crop for consumption in the world and one of the most important food crops in the DR Congo. Located in Central Africa, DRC is the fourth most populous country in Africa with an estimated population of 75 million in 2015 and the 11th largest country in the world in geographic size. DRC is among the African Great Lakes countries, which have the highest per capita consumption of beans in the world. The purpose of this research is to inform of the potential innovation opportunities in bean production in the DRC. On agronomic aspects, beans are produced in a range of crop systems and environments and require full sun for good growth and yield with sandy loam soils being the best for growth. North Kivu province is important for the production of beans in which the province produced almost 89% of DRC’s beans during the 2009-2014 period. Compared with neighboring countries, bean production in the DRC is very low. Nutritionally, beans are a nearly perfect food, providing dietary protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates. However, production of beans in North Kivu and DRC is faced with various constraints including use of poor seed and other inputs, land shortage, and poor handling and storage infrastructure. The VCA conducted at the Maendeleo Bean IP showed that small-holder farmers were the main actors in producing and marketing of beans. Although bean production in the DRC is relatively low, innovation opportunities exist that can upgrade the VC and enhance socio-economic benefits of the VC players. Opportunities for improving bean production will include introducing processing of beans through use of existing mills of other staples and promoting milling of beans into production of bean-based products. These opportunities will entail working with existing organizations for intensified provision of relevant services; extension, financial and business entrepreneur development. These would not only increase income avenues for participating farmers especially women but also increase the range of nutritious products for consumption. With the growing urban and rural populations in the DRC, the identified opportunities are worth exploring.