ECHOcommunity Conversations

Jack beans as a main crop

For many hungry subsistence farmers Jack beans are proving essential!
In several SSA countries they are being grown by hundreds of farmers as they not only fertilise the soil but can provide food when there is nothing else!
Perhaps even more importantly they will provide some income when harvested!
Later other crops will be grown.

If you wish to know more contact, Graham Knight, BioDesign at

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Hi, Graham. I think it would be very helpful if you could share details on the stage of harvest for the jack beans, the cooking time and any other key food preparation steps these farmers are carrying out. I say this as someone who once endured some violent vomiting after eating mature jackbeans that had been boiled for a while. But, how long the boiling was—I don’t know. I do know that jackbeans proved that they could endure 6 month dry seasons in northern Belize and they did give a fertility response in succeeding corn crops.
Tom Post

Our 1000+ subsistence farmers have yet to harvest their JB crop.
But one group, who were starving, decided to cook some that had been bought for sowing.
The result was so awful that they threw it away!

If you look around the ECHO website you will discover that JB have been germinated for tests done for USAid in Mozambique and shown they can be"delicious"!.
Graham Knight

Here is the link to the original Feed the Future & USAID doc that describes the detoxification process. The EDN article by Dawn Berkelaar is a summary of this document and shares photos of the detoxification process (through germination then boiling) we replicated here at ECHO, FL.


That’s a great question regarding getting sick. To keep this simple, jack beans are a legume. All legumes have a protein called tripense inhibitor. This reduces the biological activity by controlling the activation and catalytic reactions of this protein which interferes with naturally digestion process. Thus may people get sick from not properly cooking legumes all over the world. Education is needed to ensure these high protein crops can be consumed safely.

Further information on jack beans being utilized in Africa can be read in this link here. It also discusses how to prepare them properly and safely for human consumption.

Finally, thank you Graham for being continuing the clamor for small-scale farmers to use jack beans.

Be blessed,

It seems little recognized that by sowing Jack beans small farmers can start their own agro-ecology!
It overcomes many of the problems found with the usual CA techniques and can deter wandering animals so often found in SSA countries.

Graham Knight


Sounds like a research paper is needed on this subject.

Let me know I how I can assist.


Hi David,

Any research must help!
What did you have in mind?


Many subsistence farmers are interested in the JB and more research on it will be good.

Dear Alfred,
It looks as If I somehow missed your original message.

Do I gather you have an NGO?
It might be best to email me at

Some additional resources which may be of interest have been added to the ECHOcommunity collection on Jack Bean .

Hi Grahams.

Can Jack beans grow well in heavy rain or rainy areas such as Niger Delta area of Nigeria?