The BEANS also known as Cowpea (Vignia unguiculata) is an annual herbaceous legume from the genus Vigna.
It is one of the most common foodstuff in Nigeria. In fact I can say it is the third most popular food after Rice and Cassava products like Gari and Fufu.
It is an important crop in the Northern region of Nigeria due to its tolerance for sandy soil and low rainfall.
It grows very well in the semi-arid regions across Africa and other tropical and sub-tropical countries. The crop requires very few inputs, as the plant’s root nodules are able to fix atmospheric nitrogen, making it a valuable crop for resource-poor farmers and well-suited to intercropping with other crops. The whole plant is used as forage for farm animals especially Cattle and other ruminants.
In many homes, children are given beans for breakfast. Beans is a versatile food stuff and it is consumed by all classes of people, both rich, middle class and the poor. It can be made into several local delicacies such as Moin-moin (bean pudding) and Akara (fried bean paste). Beans can also be eaten whole after it has been boiled for about 40 minutes to soften it. Optimum consumption will prevent protein deficiency malnutrition.
It is cultivated widely all over Nigeria especially the middle belt region. I can conveniently state that Beans is the third most popular and consumed food in Nigeria and many other countries in the West African sub-region.
Beans is one of the major agricultural products produced in the northern part of Nigeria. The production had reduced in the last few years due to problems of insurgency in the north east region of Nigeria. Most of the beans consumed in Nigeria now comes in from Niger republic. A young small-scale Poultry entrepreneur rearing 500 layers recently enquired if he could combine his poultry farming with beans cultivation. I gave hime the following guide
- Get good fertile loamy soil.
- Obtain good seeds – preferably disease resistant and early maturing seeds. Seed selection should be done in order to ensure only healthy well-formed seeds are selected for planting.
- Land preparation – the farmers should decide on time if planting will be done in rows or beds.
- Planting – Bean seeds are planted at two seeds in a hole with the eye facing downwards. Incidentally, Beans germinates very quickly. You can see a sprout in 6-days and a good young shoot within two weeks. Planting is done in the south at the beginning of the rainy season around May.
- Harvesting of beans is done any time from 2 months. If you harvest too early, the taste may not be right. Beans tastes best when it is harvested at maturity which is usually anytime from 2 to 3 months. It is best to harvest beans when the weather is very dry as a wet weather can affect the beans during storage. Beans is harvested around August and September during the break in the rainy season.