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Background: Common beans, Phaseolus vulgaris is one of the most important plant protein sources in many African countries including Cameroon. It is a major source to smallholder farmers and some large-scale farmers. Common beans also fixes atmospheric nitrogen in symbiosis with rhizobia thus improving soil fertility. Despite the importance of this major food and cash crop, its production in Cameroon is constrained by several abiotic and biotic factors. Therefore it was hypothesized that bean farmers in the study regions have knowledge on; (1) the various factors that hamper bean production; (2) the planting periods/seasons that the various constraints are more important; (3) they have their own indigenous methods of mitigating these constraints but would prefer more appropriate methods if available.
Aims: To document when farmers plant beans,how they handled the crop when matured, and if they faced problems with rot/mould, insects orany other constraints in their beans and how they manage these problems.
Study Design: Random interviewing of beans farmers.
Place and Duration of Study: Interviewed farmers in Buea and Dschang of the humid rainforest and highland agro-ecological zones of Cameroonrespectively from January 2017 to December 2017.
Methodology: A semi-structural questionnaire was administered to 519 randomly selected bean farmers in two agro-ecological zones; the humid rainforest and highland savanna. A total of 163 from Bueain the south west (humid rainforest) and 356 from Dschang in the west (highland savanna) were randomly interviewed to document the farmers’ perceptions on various constraints hampering beansproduction, when these are most limiting and the various methods they use to mitigate them.
Results: Farmers in both agro-ecological zones lacked adequate land surface area for bean production and suffered from low yields. In the highland savanna or west region, 166 (45.98%) and 119 (75.32%) in the humid rainforest or south west region grew beans in farms of sizes <1Ha. Only 2 (1.27%) of bean farmers in the South West and 35 (9.69%) in the West produced beans on farms >2Ha. Most farmers in the west 267 (73.96%) and 139 (87.97%) in the south west produced only 1-3 bags of 50kg each of beans/ha.The farmers faced problems with mold/rot and insect pests; the mold/rot was the most nagging for beans that matured during the rainy season while insect pests was the major constraint for the dry season beans. The mold/rot was controlled mainly by the adjustment of the planting dates of beans while different types of insecticides were used against the insect pests. Farmers also face problems in having adequate/appropriate staking materials for the climbing or indeterminate bean varieties.
Conclusion: Considering that farmers face the actual daily challenges of bean production. Their knowledge and perceptions of the production constraints of this crop are quintessential and should count in defining research priorities aimed at mitigating the problems in order to increase beans production. Therefore, there is need for research to test and/or validate these farmers knowledge and perceptions about bean production constraints as a prelude to vulgarizing the effective control/management options.
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