Production, Seed Management and Utilization of Velvet Bean (Mucuna pruriens L. Dc) in Western Kenya
Mucuna pruriens (velvet bean) is a high yielding leguminous crop, high in crude protein content, which is used as animal feed and to improve soil fertility. Farmers are also increasingly interested in its nutritive capacities as food and animal feed. However, production of velvet bean faces many constraints such as unavailability of quality seed and lack of standardized agronomic practices, seed management and utilization strategies. The purpose of this research was to investigate the agronomic practices, seed management and utilization strategies of velvet bean production in Bungoma County, Kenya. A total of 56 farmers, divided in 10 groups were interviewed. A structured questionnaire was used to collect data while the Epi info 7 computer software program was used to analyze the data. Four types of velvet bean seeds were obtained from farmers during the survey. Most farmers surveyed in June 2019, had a proportion of farm under velvet bean cultivation less than 0.5 acre, have been planting velvet bean seed in one year and did not deploy seed selection criteria in the field. The reasons cited for crop popularity include: soil fertility, nutrition, drought tolerance, pest and disease tolerance, food security and medicinal. Most farmers did not intercrop velvet bean with other crops. However, 30% of the farmers intercropped velvet bean with maize, 2% intercropped with groundnut and rotated with common bean. Seed quality assurance activities carried out in the field by farmers were weeding, removing diseased plants or off types and planting seed plants separately. All parts of velvet bean possess valuable properties. The methods of preparing velvet bean for cooking were soaking the seeds and removal of seed coat. The main cooking method cited was boiling the seeds. Forty eight percent of the farmers indicated that they sold seed to other farmers and 16% to Agriculture Office. This study therefore recommends that agronomic and seed management practices need to be standardized to improve seed quality at farm level hence increase the production of velvet bean.
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