KENYA – Kenya has been preferred for a 100% Bean consumption hike to improve diets and food Systems through a campaign that aims to make beans the answer to food insecurity in areas affected by climate change.
According to Food Navigator, the initiative has set its eyes on Kenya, pushing for a 100% increase in the consumption of beans and other foods classified as pulses by 2028.
Dubbed “Beans is How,” a coalition of proponents will present its roadmap for increased production and consumption of beans and similar foods like lentils and peas at the Africa Food Systems Forum 2023 held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, highlighting Kenya as one of four initial priority countries.
Beans is How is a coalition of more than 60 partners, including AGRA, The Kraft Heinz Company, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), The Global FoodBanking Network, Google, and the Pan-African Bean Research Alliance (PABRA).
As a nutrient-dense food with a low environmental impact, greater levels of bean consumption would increase both the quality and sustainability of Kenyan diets, particularly as demand for protein increases, according to the campaign organizers.
The latest available figures indicate annual per capita consumption of pulses, which include beans, peas, and lentils, of less than 5kg in Kenya, compared to a global average of around 7.5 kg.
However, the campaign also called for more recent, comprehensive data to better understand consumption levels across the countries.
During the launch, Paul Newnham, Executive Director of the SDG2 Advocacy Hub, which coordinates the Beans is How campaign said that about half of the Kenyan population eat pulses regularly, which means half the country is missing out on a delicious, nutritious ingredient.
According to him, the gap is brought about by lack of market supply and affordability following that Kenya produces only two-thirds of the beans consumed in the country, importing around 300,000 metric tons a year to meet existing demand.
Double bean production
Jean Claude Rubyogo, head of the Pan-African Bean Research Alliance (PABRA), an organization that pushes for beans as a source of food and income for the continent, said the first step is to help farmers grow more beans.
“First of all, we need to double the production because if we don’t have enough, like in Kenya, there are many people, maybe half, who would like to eat beans daily and even as a meal but the availability is minimal,” he said.
According to him, increasing production means reducing the cost to the consumer and at the same time incentivizing the farmer with better varieties, with better agronomic practices so that they can increase production and productivity.
A roadmap to double consumption
“Beans is How” outlined plans to drive up demand for beans and other pulses by promoting the nutritional and environmental benefits of beans while increasing visibility, accessibility, and desirability.
The campaign will also work with partners to encourage more farmers to grow beans, particularly new and improved varieties.
The roadmap includes developing digital campaign efforts to promote recipes and cooking advice by working with food champions, such as chefs and social media influencers. The campaign has designed a “Bean Menu Challenge” to encourage chefs to feature beans more visibly in restaurants.
The campaign is also calling for more supportive efforts to encourage consumption and production, such as subsidies and policies to encourage farmers to grow beans.
According to the organizers, integrating beans into agricultural practices reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers as pulses convert atmospheric nitrogen into a plant-usable form. They also use less water than many other crops, helping to conserve a vital natural resource.