Beans (Revised)

Scientific Name
Phaseolus vulgaris L.
Order / Family
Fabaceae (Formerly placed in Papilionaceae and Leguminosae)
Local Names
Angola: Poke, Feijoeiro Ordinario, Makasikila Benin: Séssé, Mitoyikoun, Sonouhoué Cameroon: Haricot rouge DRC: Cishimbo, Deso, Madeso, Madeso manene, Haricot vert Gabon: Uhangé Kenya: Maharagwe
Common Names
Bush beans, common beans, dry beans, dwarf beans, field beans, French beans (also known as green beans or snap beans), garden beans, haricot beans, kidney beans, pole beans or string beans,Feijão, Feijoeiro (Portuguese); Maharagwe (Swahili).
Pests & Diseases:
Other pests: Broomrape, Snails, Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus Disease (TYLCV)

Geographical Distribution in Africa

Geographical Distribution of Beans in Africa&#13. Updated on 8 July 2019. Source FAOSTAT.
<i>Phaseolus vulgaris</i>. © OpenStreetMap contributors. © OpenMapTiles, GBIF.

Common beans originated in the Americas and domesticated in Mexico, Peru, and Colombia 8000 years ago. Before Columbus, it was unknown in the Old World, but later it became an essential crop in Europe and Africa. It is widely cultivated in many parts of the tropics, subtropics, and temperate regions. Common bean is a vital pulse crop throughout tropical America and many parts of tropical Africa. It is of little importance in India and most tropical Asia, where indigenous pulses are preferred.

Native to:
Central America (Panama to Mexico)

Introduced into:
Most tropical and sub-tropical countries of the world.

Other Local names

Madagascar: Zarikô, Malgache, Tsaramaso
Malawi: Mbwanda, Khwanya, Nyemba
Mali: Nii Tèengu Soo 
Mauritius: Haricot 
Rwanda: Umukarankuba 
South Africa: E mbotyi 
Togo: Ayi, Sona

Read more

Local names (Detailed)
Angola: Poke (Umubumbu), Feijoeiro Ordinario (Portuguese) (Bossard, E., 1996): Makasikila (Kikongo) (Lautenschläger et al., 2018) 
Benin: Kpankoui red, Séssé, Akpakoun vov, Mitoyikoun, Sonouhoué (Loko et al., 2018)
Cameroon: Haricot rouge (local French) (Mpondo et al., 2015)
DRC: Cishimbo (Shi) (Defour, G., 1994): Deso, Madeso, Madeso manene (Kongo), Haricot vert (French) (Latham & Mbuta., 2006).
Gabon: Osangé, Ariko (Mpongwè, Galoa, Nkomi, Orungu), Butsangi, Mariku (Eshira, Bavarama, Bavungu, Bapunu), Mdjangi, Madiko (Mitsogo), Mutsangi, Mariko (Ngowé, Balumbu), Butsangi, Mariko (Bavili), Botsangi, Mariko (Banzabi), Modjangi, Maliko (Apindji), Ésanga, Mariki, Eriki (Mindumu), Butsangi (Baduma), Usangé (Béséki), Uhangé (Benga), Bésangé (Bakélé) (Raponda-Walker, A., & Sillans, R., 1961)
Kenya: Maharagwe (Swahili), Mboso (Kamba); Mboco (Kikuyu): Oganda (Luo), Anakanda (Luhya) (Maundu et al., 1999)
Madagascar: Zarikô (Antakarana), Malgache, Tsaramaso (Malgache), Haricot (Fançais), Bean (English) (Nicolas, J. P., 2012)
Malawi: Kwanya (Yao), Mbwanda (Yao), Khwanya (Yao), Nyemba (Chiwewa) (Maundu, 2006). 
Mali: Nii Tèengu Soo (Bandiagara) (Inngjerdingen et al., 2004)
Mauritius: Haricot (local language) (Mahomoodally, M. F., 2014)
Rwanda: Umukarankuba (Kinyarwanda) (Lestrade, A., 1955)
South Africa: E mbotyi (Isi Xhosa) (Maroyi, A., 2017)
Togo: Ayi (Holaly et al., 2015), Sona (Tem) (Karou et al., 2011)
Morocco: Oubya (Chaachouay et al., 2019)

General Information and Agronomic Aspects


Many names are used for Phaseolus vulgaris. Phaseolus vulgaris, commonly known as the common bean or kidney bean, belongs to the family Fabaceae and the genus Phaseolus. The genus Phaseolus is large, including approximately 80 cultivated and wild species. These species are distributed across different regions of the world and exhibit a diverse range of characteristics and uses. Common bean is native to the Americas but has been widely cultivated and adapted to various regions around the world. In Africa, it is a staple crop, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where it plays a crucial role in food security and nutrition. The common bean is known to thrive in diverse agroecological zones, from lowland areas to highlands, and from arid to humid regions. It is grown in countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Nigeria, among others. These include bush beans, common beans, dry beans, dwarf beans, field beans, French beans, garden beans, green beans, haricot beans, kidney beans, pole beans, snap beans or string beans. 

However, presently, two distinct bean types are recognized in the region: French beans (green beans) and common beans (dry beans). French beans are the immature green pods of P. vulgaris and are primarily grown for export market to European Union and elite local urban markets. Common beans are the second most important staple food to maize for the local people. 

Beans were introduced to Africa from Latin America several centuries ago. To date beans are a vital staple in Africa, providing the main source of protein. Common beans are mainly grown by women for subsistence and for the local market. French beans (green/snap beans) are grown as a cash crop by large scale and smallholder farmers. They are a major export vegetable commodity in Eastern Africa. The main producing countries in the region are Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and more recently Rwanda. In Kenya, most of the crop is grown by smallholders and virtually all is exported to Europe. Estimates indicate that up to 50,000 smallholder families are involved in French bean production in Kenya. 

The growth habit of common beans varies from determinate dwarf or bush types to indeterminate climbing or pole cultivars. Bush beans are the most predominant types grown in Africa. However, improved climbing beans introduced to Rwanda in the 80's have since spread to other countries in the region. They are particularly grown in areas with limited land and high human population.

The common bean is highly regarded for its nutritional value, as both its seeds and leaves can be consumed. It is recognized for its abundant proteins, complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making it a valuable source of nutrients. This crop offers versatility as it can be enjoyed in various forms, including fresh pods, immature seeds, or mature dried beans. Common bean varieties display a range of colors, such as white, red, black, and speckled, each with its own distinct taste and cooking qualities. Aside from its role as a food crop, common bean also possesses medicinal properties. Traditional medicine systems in Africa have long utilized different parts of this plant for therapeutic purposes.
(Graham & Ranalli, 1997, Wortmann, 2006).

Phaseolus vulgaris plant with pods Ⓒ Maundu, 2014.
Common bean plant with pods

Ⓒ Maundu, 2014.

Species account 

Common bean is a herb that can be climbing, trailing, erect or bushy, depending on the specific variety grown. Leaves : green or purple and grow alternately on the stems. Leaflet shape differs among the cultivars, but leaflets generally have broad bases and pointed tips. Flower vary from white, pink, lilac, or purple and are borne on axillary or terminal racemes. Its bean pods are 8-20cm long and 1-1.5cm wide and can be green, yellow, black, or purple. Each pod contains 4-6 smooth, kidney-shaped beans. Bean crops exhibit a wide range of variations in Africa. Beans come in different seed sizes, colors, textures, tastes and growth habits. The size of the plant can vary significantly, from bushy varieties that reach 20-60cm in height to vines or runner beans that can grow up to 200-300cm long (Graham & Ranalli, 1997, Wortmann, 2006).

Common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris). Ⓒ Maundu, 2014
Common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris).

Ⓒ Maundu, 2014
Beans-Wairimu (royal), Kenya. Ⓒ Adeka et al., 2005.
Beans-Wairimu (royal), Kenya.
Ⓒ Adeka et al., 2005.
Beans-white, Kenya. Ⓒ Adeka et al., 2005
Beans-white, Kenya.
Ⓒ Adeka et al., 2005
Bean-Mwitemania' Katumbuka - Machakos, Kenya. Ⓒ Maundu, 2005
Bean-Mwitemania' Katumbuka - Machakos, Kenya.
Ⓒ Maundu, 2005
Bean. Mwezi Moja (GLP 1004). Machakos, Kenya. Ⓒ Adeka et al., 2005
Bean. Mwezi Moja (GLP 1004). Machakos, Kenya.
Ⓒ Adeka et al., 2005

Due to extensive plant-breeding efforts, P. vulgaris comprises numerous cultivars with a wide range of morphological and agronomic characteristics, including differences in seed size and colour as well as growth habit.

Common bean (dry bean) varieties in Kenya 

Optimal production altitude (m)

Maturity period (months)

Grain yield (t/ha)


"Canadian Wonder (GLP 24)" 




Seeds are shiny dark reddish purple, recommended for medium rainfall areas, resistant to angular leaf spot (ALS) and anthracnose but susceptible to common bean mosaic virus (CBMV) and rust 



Dry beans seed KAT BI Ⓒ A.A. Seif, icipe
Dry beans seed KAT BI
Ⓒ A.A. Seif, icipe




Seeds creamish-green, tolerant to ALS, common bacterial blight (CBB) and CBMV, tolerant to drought and heat and grows well under tree/banana shades





Seeds brilliant red, more drought tolerant than KAT/B-1, tolerant to CBMV and rust 

"KAT X16"





"KAT X56" 




Seeds brilliant red, tolerant to CBMV, charcoal rot and rust

"KAT X69" 




Seeds red with cream flecks, resistant to CBMV and rust, tolerant to ALS and charcoal rot, susceptible to lodging 

"Kenya Wonder"




Moderately resistant to ALS, CBB, CBMV and halo blight (HB)

"Kenya Red Kidney" 

Dry beans seed Kenya Red Kidney Ⓒ A.A. Seif, icipe
Dry beans seed Kenya Red Kidney
Ⓒ A.A. Seif, icipe




Moderately resistant to ALS, CBB, CBMV and HB

"KK 8"




Tolerant to root rot

"KK 15"




Tolerant to root rot 

"KK 22"




Tolerant to root rot

"Miezi Mbili" 




Moderately resistant to ALS, anthracnose, CBB, CBMV and HB 

"Mwezi Moja (GLP 1004)"

Bean. Mwezi Moja (GLP 1004). Machakos. P Maundu
Bean. Mwezi Moja (GLP 1004). Machakos.
P Maundu




Well suited for the drier semi-arid low rainfall areas and also performs well in medium rainfall areas during short rains, seeds are large beige or light brown speckled purple, tolerant to drought and bean fly but susceptible to HB 

"Mwitemania (GLP X92)" 

Mwitemania (GLP X92).
Mwitemania (GLP X92).




Wide adaptability to various agro-ecological zones of low to high rainfall areas, seeds broad with brown flecks on cream, susceptible to CBMV, drought tolerant

"New Mwezi Moja (GLP X1127)" 

New Mwezi Moja (GLP X1127)
New Mwezi Moja (GLP X1127)




Wide adaptability, resistant to CBMV, tolerant to rust

"Pinto Bean (GLP 92)" 




Wide adaptability, resistant to HB

"Red Haricot (GLP 585)" 




Suitable for high rainfall areas, resistant to CBMV 

"Rose Coco (GLP 2)"

Beans-rose coco (GLP 2) (Green
Beans-rose coco (GLP 2) (Green
P Maundu

P Maundu) 




Wide adaptability, recommended for medium and high rainfall areas, seeds red with cream flecks, resistant to anthracnose and CBMV but susceptible to ALS and rust

"Wairimu Dwarf" 




Heat tolerant, good for maize intercropping, excellent cooking qualities 


Examples of common bean varieties grown in Tanzania

  • "Canadian Wonder" (characteristics as in Kenya) 
  • "Cheupe" (recommended altitude:above 1500 m, potential yield: 2.5-3.0 t/ha, seeds light brown, resistant to anthracnose, CBMV, HB and rust)
  •  "Lymungo 85" ((recommended altitude: 900-1800 m, days to flowering: 33, pod colour: yellow, potential yield: 1.2-1.5 t/ha, resistant to ALS, anthracnose, CBB and CBMV)
  • "Lymungo 90" (recommended altitude: 900-1800, seeds are larger than Lymungo 85, colour deep mottled red purple, yield potential; 1.2-1.5 t/ha)
  •  "Selian 05" (recommended altitude: 1000-1500, potential yield: 1.0-1.6 t/ha, seeds cream in colour, resistant to anthracnose, CBMV, HB and rust) 
  • "Selian 06" (recommended altitude below 1500 m, yield potential; 2.5-3.0 t/ha, seeds white, days to flowering: 40, resistant to anthracnose, CBMV and HB)

Examples of common bean varieties grown in Uganda

  •  "K 132" (Seeds large kidney shaped red with white mottled colour, maturity period: 80 days, potential yield: 2 t/ha, resistant to CBMV but susceptible to anthracnose)

Resistance to diseases in commercial varieties of French beans available in Kenya


Resistance to diseases


Anthracnose, common bean mosaic virus, rust 


Anthracnose / common bean mosaic virus


Anthracnose / common bean mosaic virus / halo blight


Anthracnose / common bean mosaic virus


Anthracnose / common bean mosaic virus


Anthracnose / common bean mosaic virus / common blight / 


Common bean mosaic virus 

"RS 1389"

Common bean mosaic virus / bean rust

"RS 1391"

Common bean mosaic virus / bean rust

"RS 1518"

Anthracnose / common bean mosaic virus


Anthracnose / common bean mosaic virus 


Anthracnose / common bean mosaic virus / halo blight 


Anthracnose / common bean mosaic virus 


Source: PIP Technical Itinerary French Beans.


Recently introduced French bean varieties in Kenya (HCDA)

  • "Bakera"
  •  "Bronco"
  •  "Claudia" 
  • "Coby" 
  • "Cupert"
  •  "Espadia"
  •  "Gloria" 
  • "Morgan"
  •  "Pekera"
  •  "Rexas" 
  • "Sasa"
  •  "Super Monel"
  •  "Tonivert" 
  • "Vernando" 

Ecological conditions 

Common beans grow within a range of temperatures of 17.5-27°C. Above 30°C flower buds are likely to fall and seeds are rarely formed at temperatures over 35°C. They are sensitive to night frost. Common beans are usually grown at altitudes between 600 - 1950 m in many tropical areas.

A moderate well-distributed rainfall is required (300-400 mm per crop cycle) but dry weather during harvest is essential. Drought or waterlogging are harmful. Climbing cultivars will give economic yields in areas of high rainfall but the dwarf types appear to be more sensitive to high soil moisture levels. Suitable soil types range from light to moderately heavy and to peaty soils with near-neutral pH and good drainage. Common bean is susceptible to salinity.

 The optimum temperature range for growing French beans is 20-25°C, but can be grown in temperatures ranging between 14 and 32°C. Extreme temperatures result in poor flower development and poor pod set. However, French beans mature faster in warmer areas. French beans can be grown between 1000 and 2100 metres above sea level. Rainfed cultivation is possible in areas with well distributed, medium to high annual rainfall (900-1200 mm) but to maintain a continuous production especially during the dry season, irrigation is essential. During the dry season up to 50 mm of water per week is required. This could be applied through furrow or overhead irrigation. French beans grow best on well drained, silty loams to heavy clay soils high in organic matter with pH 5.5-6.5. 

Agronomic aspects

Normal propagation is by seed but for special purposes stem cuttings can be rooted easily. French beans, grown for fresh consumption, canning or freezing should be planted at 2–3-week intervals in order to harvest all year round, but main export season for fresh beans is October to May. Hence planting for export at 2–3-week intervals should start mid-August and cease end February. Single rows of 30 x 15 cm (1 seed per planting hole) or double rows 60 x 30 x 10 cm are used. For single rows it is advisable to plant in blocks of 4 single rows separated by a path of 50 cm for ease of management. Seed rate is 50-60 kg per hectare.
 For good pest and disease management avoid planting French beans too close. A spacing of not less than 30 x 15 cm between the rows and within the row is recommended in Kenya. New plantings should be sited up-wind where continuous bean cropping is practiced. Plant maize, cereals or sunflower between French bean fields to minimize the spread of wind-borne diseases such as bean rust.
 Plant population densities are 150,000 - 200,000 plants/ha for dwarf cultivars and half that for climbing types in sole cropping. In intercropping, densities are much lower. For climbing beans, 4-6 seeds are usually sown together in hills spaced 1 m apart. They may also be sown in rows at a spacing of 90-120 x 15-30 cm. Depth of sowing is 3-6 cm. Seed rate depends on seed size and intended plant population densities, up to 120 kg/ha for dwarf beans and 60 kg/ha for climbers in sole cropping. Climbing cultivars require support by stakes or trellis up to 2.5 m in height unless they are intercropped with tall plants such as maize or sorghum - an increasingly common practice in Kenya Rift Valley - the maize or sorghum plants acting as stakes for the bean plants. Avoid planting beans near cowpea, soybean and many other leguminous crops, that may be the source of bean flies. 


Beans are comparatively light feeders and require as a guide line about 25-35 kg P/ ha (equivalent to 1-2 bags of Mijingu rock phosphate/ha) and 75-80 kg K/ha. Like all legumes, beans are able to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere, so do not require nitrogen fertilisation. However a soil conducive to nitrogen fixing with the natural nitrogen fixing bacteria present is preferable. Hard soils with little organic matter will not give good yields of beans, unless organic matter is provided, preferably in the form of good quality compost or well decomposed farmyard manure. For pure stands of beans it is preferable to construct slightly raised beds of maximum 1 metre width in order to limit soil compaction around the bean plants. Application of good compost in the beds will improve yields as it will improve nitrogen fixation. Timely and thorough weeding is essential for French beans.

The first weeding should be done 2-3 weeks after emergence followed by a second weeding 2-3 weeks later. During weeding slight ridging of plants will help bean plants withstand attack of bean flies. Cultivating beans when the soil is wet encourages spread of soil-borne diseases such as anthracnose and fusarium root rot. Shallow tillage is preferred especially in the period before flowering as damage to the roots or the collar of the plant encourages soil borne diseases. Common bean can be rain-fed or irrigated. Irrigation is beneficial in semi-arid regions, with overhead irrigation preferred over flood irrigation. In peasant farming, the crop is seldom manured. Crop rotation is necessary to limit soil borne diseases such as root-knot nematodes and fusarium root rot. Fertilise the soil properly and plant French beans on hills or ridges where root rot could be a problem. Avoid furrow irrigation in areas prone to root rot and root-knot nematodes and fusarium.  


Mulching with straw and cut grasses helps conserve moisture, promote adventitious root development and enhances tolerance to bean fly maggot damage.  


 Beans are excellent for intercropping with other food crops, such as maize, potatoes, celery, cucumber and can help supply the other crops with nitrogen to a limited degree. Longer season varieties of beans can fix higher amounts of nitrogen than short season varieties. Intercropping with chives or garlic helps repel aphids (KIOF - personal communication).  

Water management 

A regular water supply is essential for French beans as moisture affects yields, uniformity and quality. Water stress during flowering reduces yields, as does waterlogging. Irrigation in dry spells is recommended as 35 mm per week at planting and 10 days post emergence, followed by 50 mm per week thereafter till end of production.  

Pest and disease prevention with EM or BM 

EM (Effective Microorganisms) and BM (Beneficial Microorganisms) have been shown to prevent many diseases and a few pests in various crops when sprayed on a regular basis. These are commercial products and are readily available in Kenya. It is organically acceptable and quite cheap.  

Fresh Quality Specifications for the Market in Kenya
The following specifications constitute raw material purchasing requirements

&#9400; S. Kahumbu, Kenya


&#9400; S. Kahumbu, Kenya

Harvest, post-harvest practices and markets 

Dry beans are harvested when they rattle in the pod. The plant is pulled up by hand and hung from the roots. There are two main methods of bean harvesting: manual and mechanical. Small-scale farmers often hand-pick beans individually. This method allows for careful selection of ripe pods and minimizes damage to the plant. It is commonly used for specialty or high-value beans. Large-scale commercial operations employ machinery for bean harvesting. Mechanical harvesters use various mechanisms, such as reel-type or pick-up systems, to strip or pick the beans from the plants. These machines are efficient and can handle large volumes of beans quickly. Different bean varieties may require specific harvesting techniques. For example, bush beans are usually harvested by hand due to their compact growth habit, while pole beans may be harvested mechanically because they grow on climbing vines.
French beans are harvested before the pods are fully-grown. Harvest starts 7-8 weeks after sowing in early cultivars. Pods should be picked every 2-3 days, and the number of pickings is greater in climbing than in bushy cultivars. Dry beans are harvested as soon as a considerable proportion of the pods (roughly 80%) are fully mature and have turned yellow. Some cultivars tend to shatter. Usually entire plants are pulled and further dried till ready for threshing. After threshing the beans are further sun dried to estimated 12 % moisture to avoid storage problems. 
Solar drying of bean seeds before storage is essential. Also before storing, mix bean seeds with a) ashes or ash/chilli mixture b) diatomite (commercially available as Kensil Lagging from most hardware shops in Kenya) c) store completely dry seeds in a sealed container such as a metal or plastic bucket with air tight lid, checking regularly that no weevils are developing and closing tightly again. 
Common beans holds significant value in the global market. Major global producers include Brazil, Mexico, India, China, and the United States. In Africa, key producers of common beans are DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Angola, and Mozambique. The African market primarily focuses on local consumption, with approximately 40% sold in urban areas and for export. Trade between neighboring countries is significant, with Uganda being a notable supplier to Kenya, Rwanda, and Sudan. Some African countries, like Ethiopia and northern Tanzania, specialize in bean production for export to Europe, the Middle East, and other specific markets. Value-added products, such as canned beans and bean flour, cater to growing demand for convenient and nutritious food. Continuous market monitoring is essential for industry stakeholders. (Wortmann, C.S., 2006).

Edible bean sprouts
Edible bean sprouts
Ⓒ P Maundu 2014.

Nutritional value and recipes

Beans are one of the most important crops in the country and are considered the most important and basic food legume for nearly 300 million people in the developing countries. It is an excellent source of plant-based protein, making it an important addition to vegetarian and vegan diet considered as the second source of protein in most populations in eastern and southern Africa, and also used as the main source of protein in rural communities globally. 
Moreover, this legume is rich in dietary fiber, which aids digestion, regulates blood sugar levels, and promotes a feeling of fullness. Fiber is also beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Common beans provides complex carbohydrates that release energy slowly, helping with weight management and providing sustained feelings of fullness. Beans are a good source of folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Folate is essential for red blood cell production, iron supports oxygen transport, and magnesium and phosphorus contribute to bone health. Potassium plays a vital role in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.
(Romero et al., 2013, Hayat et al., 2014, Celmeli, et al., 2018, Kotue, et al., 2018) 
Table 1: Proximate composition of 100 g of dry raw kidney beans and boiled drained without salt


Beans, kidney, dry, raw

Beans, kidney, dry, unsoaked, boiled, drained (without


Recommended daily allowance (approx.) for adultsa

Edible portion




Energy (KJ)








Water (g)




Protein (g)




Fat (g)



<30 (male), <20 (female)b




225 -325g

Fibre. Total dietary (g)




Ash (g)




Mineral composition


Calcium (mg)




Iron (mg)




Magnesium (mg)




Phosphorus (mg)




Potassium (mg)




Sodium (mg)




Zinc (mg)




Se (mg)




Bioactive compound composition


Vit A RE (mcg)




Vit A RAE (mcg)




Retinol (mcg)




Beta-carotene equiv. (mcg)



600 – 1500g

Vit D (mcg)


5 – 15*

Vit E (mg)



Thiamine (mg)




Riboflavin (mg)




Niacin (mg)




Folate (mcg)




Vit B12 (mcg)




Vit C (mg)




Source (Nutrient data): FAO/Government of Kenya. 2018. Kenya Food Composition Tables. Nairobi, 254 pp.

$ Draining the water several times leaches away water soluble nutrients significantly.

a Lewis, J. 2019. Codex nutrient reference values. Rome. FAO and WHO

b NHS (refers to saturated fat)


d British Heart Foundation



g Mayo Clinic


1. Mushenye (beans and sweet potatoes)
(Source: Vihiga, Kenya)

•    1 Kg beans 
•    5 large sized sweet potatoes (red variety)
•    Salt to taste (optional)

•    Sort and clean the beans well
•    Peel and clean the sweet potatoes 
•    Boil beans and sweet potatoes separately
•    When ready mix and season to taste
•    Mash the mixture to a soft consistency
•    Serve warm with any stew or tea

2. Bean katogo 
(Source: The Gishu, Mt. Elgon, Uganda)

•    Beans
•    Matoke (Plantain)
•    Tomatoes
•    Onions
•    Lye (traditional salt)

•    Boil beans until they are ready.
•    Peel plantains and put a layer of them in a separate pan.
•    Add a layer of beans.
•    Add another layer of plantain, then another layer of beans
•    Add traditional salt (lye) to soften both the bananas and the beans and salt to taste.
•    Cover with banana leaves. If not firm, put another pot on top. If exposed, the food can turn black.
•    Cook over high heat for about 5 minutes 
•    Cook for a further 15 minutes over mild heat.
•    Alternatively, remove the leaves and tomatoes and onions after 10 minutes of cooking. Mix completely, then, cook for a further 20 minutes. 
Note: For quantities of ingredients, try different proportions and see what appeals most

3. Irio 
(A recipe of the Kikuyu of Kenya)

200 g dried beans
100 g Green maize    
60 g Stinging nettle leaves
200 g Potatoes
2 cups water 

•    Select and soak the beans overnight. This significantly reduces the cooking time.
•    Shell the maize and select the beans to remove unwanted particles.
•    Pluck the stalks off the leaves, and then wash the leaves twice to ensure absolute removal of mud and insects. Set aside for use later.
•    Mix and wash the maize and the beans together.
•    Put these into a pot or saucepan, and then add water to slightly cover the food and boil until they are all cooked i.e. when the beans are soft on pressing between the fingers. If cooking by pressure cooker, pressure-cook for 20 minutes and allow pressure cooker to cool on its own.
•    Add the peeled and cleaned potatoes to the maize and beans. 
•    Without chopping, add the leaves to the pot and continue boiling until the potatoes are soft enough to be mashed. By now the water level should have greatly reduced. 
•    Drain off any excess water. (This excess water can be kept aside to soften baby food.)
•    Mash the food until all the potatoes are all thoroughly mashed and the food evenly mixed.

To prepare a child’s dish from the same, eliminate the maize and mash till soft and light enough for a child. The food can be made lighter by adding the excess water drained out before mashing.
Also, stinging nettle leaves could also be substituted with pumpkin leaves or leaves of the buffalo gourd (Cucumis ficifolia - Kahurura or Kanyuria in Kenya)

4. Beans and edoodo (amaranth)
(Uganda recipe)

2 cups beans (dry or green)
2 bunches of Amaranthus leaves
Salt to taste

•    Select beans to ensure they are clear of any debris.
•    Wash the beans and soak (if dry) overnight. This greatly reduces the cooking time.
•    If beans were soaked overnight, replace soaking water and place on fire to boil.
•    Allow boiling till beans are cooked, i.e. soft when pressed between fingers
•    Drain any excess water, leaving about a cup.
•    Wash the vegetables and place the vegetables on the beans and allow them to steam for about 15 minutes or till the vegetables are tender.
•    Add salt to taste then mash the vegetables and beans together. 
•    Serve with sweet potato, banana, cassava, millet or preferred stew. 

You may add groundnut or simsim (sesame) paste or butter.

5. Beans in Samusoni 
(Uganda recipe)

40 g young leaves of Colocasia esculenta (cocoyam leaves)
450 g beans (dry or fresh) (rosecoco type if available)
1 cup groundnut or simsim butter

•    Select beans to ensure they are clear of any debris.
•    Wash the beans and soak (if dry) overnight. This greatly reduces the cooking time.
•    If beans were soaked overnight, replace soaking water and place on fire to boil.
•    Allow boiling till beans are cooked, i.e. soft when pressed between fingers
•    Drain any excess water, leaving about a cup.
•    Remove the petiole and veins from the vegetables then wash.
•    Place the vegetables over the beans and steam till they are cooked.    
•    Add salt to taste, groundnut or simsim butter then mash the vegetables and the beans together.
•    Serve with cassava or sweet potatoes or preferred stew.

This is a very thick bean sauce and should be eaten while warm as it becomes thicker when it cools.

Information on Diseases

Common bean diseases in the tropics are:

  • Common blight (Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. phaseoli)
  • Fusarium root rot (Fusarium solani f. sp. phaseoli)
  • Rust (Uromyces appendiculatus var. appendiculatus)
  • Anthracnose (Colletotrichum lindemuthianum)
  • The bean common mosaic virus (BCMV)
  • Angular leaf spot (Phaeoisariopsis griseola)
  • Halo blight (Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola)
  • Powdery mildew (Erysiphe polygoni)
  • Root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.)

Contact Information



1.    Allen, D. J., Ampofo, J. K. O. and Wortmann, C. S. (1996). Pest, diseases and nutritional disorders of the common bean in Africa. A field guide. A CIAT/CTA publication. (ISBN: 958 9439 55 1)
2.    CABI (2005). Crop Protection Compendium, 2005 Edition. (c) CAB International Publishing. Wallingford, UK.
3.    East African Seed Co. Ltd. Africa's Best Grower’s Guide;
4.    Elwell, H. and Maas, A. (1995). Natural pest and disease control. Natural farming Network. Zimbabwe. (ISBN: 0 7974 1429 0 
5.    Fruits and Vegetables Technical Handbook. Published by The Ministry of Agriculture and rural Development. P.O. Box 30028, Nairobi, Kenya. Available from AIC, Kabete, Nairobi
6.    Latham, P. and Konda ku Mbuta, A.K. (2006) Useful Plants of Bas-Congo Province, Democratic Republic of Congo. 2nd Edition, Mystole Publications, Canterbury, 276
7.    Maundu, M. E. (1997). Control of the black bean aphid, Aphid fabae Scop. Using neem based insecticides on French beans in Kenya. Report for GTZ-IPM-Horticulture Project. 1997. 57 pp.
8.    Graham, P. H., & Ranalli, P. (1997). Common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). Field Crops Research, 53(1-3), 131-146.
9.    Nderitu, J. H., Buruchara, R. A. and Ampofo (1997). Integrated pest management for beans. African Highlands Initiative. 
10.    Nutrition Data;
11.    PIP Technical Itinerary French Beans.
12.    Phaseolus vulgaris L. in GBIF Secretariat (2021). GBIF Backbone Taxonomy. Checklist dataset accessed via on 2021-12-17.
13.    Maundu, P. (2006). Food list of plants in Malawi and Mozambique. Unpublished. 
14.    Seif, A.A., Varela, A.M., Loehr, B. and Michalik, S. (2001). A Guide to IPM in French Beans Production with Emphasis on Kenya. pp. 88. ICIPE Science Press, Nairobi, Kenya. (ISBN: 92 9064 142 8 
15.    Tindall, H. D. (1983). Vegetables in the tropics. Macmillan, London and Basingstoke. 533 pp. (ISBN: 0 333 24268 8)

Information Source Links


  • Allen, D. J., Ampofo, J. K. O. and Wortmann, C. S. (1996). Pest, diseases and nutritional disorders of the common bean in Africa. A field guide. A CIAT/CTA publication. (ISBN: 958 9439 55 1)
  • CABI (2005). Crop Protection Compendium, 2005 Edition. © CAB International Publishing. Wallingford, UK.
  • East African Seed Co. Ltd. Africa's Best Grower^s Guide;
  • Elwell, H. and Maas, A. (1995). Natural pest and disease control. Natural farming Network. Zimbabwe. (ISBN: 0 7974 1429 0 
  • Fruits and Vegetables Technical Handbook. Published by The Ministry of Agriculture and rural Development. P.O.Box 30028, Nairobi, Kenya. Available from AIC, Kabete, NAirobi
  • Maundu, M. E. (1997). Control of the black bean aphid, Aphid fabae Scop. Using neem based insecticides on French beans in Kenya. Report for GTZ-IPM-Horticulture Project. 1997. 57 pp.
  • Nderitu, J. H., Buruchara, R. A. and Ampofo (1997). Integrated pest management for beans. African Highlands Initiative. 
  • Nutrition Data;
  • PIP Technical Itinerary French Beans.
  • Seif, A.A., Varela, A.M., Loehr, B. and Michalik, S. (2001). A Guide to IPM in French Beans Production with Emphasis on Kenya. pp. 88. ICIPE Science Press, Nairobi, Kenya. (ISBN: 92 9064 142 8 
  • Tindall, H. D. (1983). Vegetables in the tropics. Macmillan, London and Basingstoke. 533 pp. (ISBN: 0 333 24268 8)

Review Process

Patrick Maundu, James Kioko, Charei Munene, Monique Hunziker, March 2024.

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