ECHOcommunity Conversations

Food during a pandemic

In many SSA countries rural people are dying now from a lack of food!
The Corona virus plus locusts have caused this crisis along with climate change.
Of the survivors a fair number will have been saved by eating Jack bean leaves and pods while nothing else is available!
Jack beans resist both weather and insects and provide high protein food soon after sowing!
Graham Knight, BioDesign.
biodesigndiy@gmail.com

Graham,

Do you know if jack Bean is resistant to Fall Army Worm? Working with the farmers in Malawi…

Michael Cooley

Hi Michael,
Although many of my farmer contacts marvel that their Jack beans have not been attacked by recent locust swarms none have yet mentioned FAW.
If you email me at biodesigndiy@gmail.com with more details I will circulate it among many farmers now growing JB

ECHO has a great article on how to prepare Jack Beans without issues with toxicity. It involves soaking seed for several days and inducing sprouting and rinsing at least once daily and then rubbing off the hulls. Roland Bunches work on Jack Bean covercrop intercropping shows that many if not most areas experiencing declining soil fertility can be substantially improved with Jack Bean, particularly after the 2nd year as a perennial, cut back before planting time each year. Declining soil fertility may be more significant with lack of fallowing and rotation. Subsequent changes in yield often mistakenly get blamed on changing climate. I believe it is very important if we are expecting food shortages to get the church to get people organizing together to find ways of more intensively manage cropping on all of the land in the area. Farmers groups can be organized and savings groups help to finance needed investments. Intercropping, relay cropping, double digging/trench planting, sunken gardens, raised bed gardens built over organic matter, Zai pit, mulching, plasticulture, water harvesting/irrigation, diversification, better record keeping to track net income per hour or per unit of money invested can all help in intensification. My opinion is that if you have a choice between time invested in composting and time invested in planting an intercrop, almost always it is better to choose one or more of the best intercrops to maximize your soil improvement per unit of time invested, over composting. I would focus on carbohydrate staples (every region has different options), particularly those high throughout in yellow, orange, red, & purple (best usually) colors (antioxidants) if food is short and learn which weeds are edible, harvest then and also dry them in the shade for dry season vitamins.