Climate resilient ‘super bean’ is solving refugee food crisis in Uganda

25 January 2018
Climate resilient ‘super bean’ is solving refugee food crisis in Uganda

Refugees in Uganda are being provided with climate resilient ‘super beans’ to reduce reliance on aid and encourage greater levels of self-sufficiency.

The drought resistant beans have been given out by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Refugees are encouraged to plant the fast-growing and high-yielding plant ‘Nabe 15’ to replenish food levels and stocks.

Nabe 15 is a non-genetically modified bean developed by the National Agricultural Research Organisation of Uganda in partnership with the International Centre for Tropic Agriculture. The bean has proven successful at helping refugees feed their families and cultivate new livelihoods.

Uganda is currently home to over 1 million refugees who have fled conflict in South Sudan.

Beatrice Okello, Senior Programme Manager at FAO said: “Uganda is currently overwhelmed by the high number of refugees…humanitarian partners are finding it difficult to maintain the rations of food assistance necessary per household”

Last year a lack of funds meant that the World Food Programme was forced to cut grain handouts for refugees in Uganda. The FAO are now distributing Nabe 15 beans along with more traditional seeds such as maize and vegetables.

The Nabe 15 bean has reportedly resulted in an increase in harvests in Uganda. The crop also matures more quickly than many local beans, maturing in 60 to 70 days compared to up to 90 days.

Beatrice Okello noted that as the majority of refugees have agricultural backgrounds “providing the seeds helps them to restart a livelihood for their household and ensure food security”

Providing refugees with the Nabe 15 bean improves their self-sufficiency and prevents them from feeling like passive recipients, according to Andie Lambe, Executive Director of International Refugee Rights Limited.

The Nabe 15 bean is more resilient to pests, disease and drought compared to local varieties and can grow on undesirable land that is typically hard to cultivate. It is also more space efficient than local bean varieties. This is a significant benefit of the bean as refugees arriving in Uganda have limited access to arable land.

The Nabe 15 bean is a positive development for refugees and the future of climate resilient crops.

Image source: International Centre for Tropical Agriculture