Growing more climbing beans, as opposed to lower-yield bush beans, could help increase food security in sub-Saharan Africa as demand for food increases, climate change becomes more pronounced, and arable land becomes scarcer, according to a new study. Researchers mapped suitable cultivation areas and modeled future scenarios for 14 countries. The results indicate where specialists can target to promote climbing bean cultivation in areas that are highly suitable for the crop and not yet cultivated.
"Climate change is making it more difficult for Africa to produce food," said Glenn Hyman, a co-author and environmental scientist at Spatial Informatics Group. "Yields are expected to go down. We're proposing climbing beans as an intensification solution, mostly because they yield three times more than bush beans."
Varieties of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) are essential for nutrition and income for millions in sub-Saharan Africa. Sustaining the growing export trade while satisfying domestic demand will require a substantial increase in yield from existing cropland. But expansion to new lands is no longer feasible in most countries.