Assessment of bean production constraints and seed quality and health of improved common bean seed
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A Participatory Rural Appraisal was carried out in October 1999 in Gichera sub-location in Runyenjes in Embu, Kenya The aim of the survey was to identify the major constraints faced by bean farmers in this location. The bean production problems were listed by the community and ranked in order of importance using a pair wise matrix. The constraints were poor or low soil fertility, bean diseases, insect pests and poor road network among others. The PRA was followed up by administration of a semi-structured questionnaire. Based on responses by farmers to the questionnaire, bean diseases were ranked (87.5 %) as the most important constraint contributing to low bean yield in the area This was followed by low yielding bean varieties (62.5 %), low soil fertility (52.5 %), insect pests (50 %), lack of quality seed (17.5 %), low market prices (12.5 %) and low or high rainfall (10%). It was established that most farmers in the area grow beans in association with maize. Seed health tests were carried out in the laboratory using blotter and agar methods. The seed was obtained from farmers who had been provided •• vith improved bean lines from Kabete campus. In blotters test (non-sterile seeds), Alternaria spp, Fusarium spp and Pythium spp were isolated from the farmers' seeds. Seeds originating from seed producers had significantly (P=0.05) lower infections of Fusarium spp compared to those produced by subsistence farmers. In the blotters test (sterile seed), Alternaria spp, Fusarium spp, M phaseolina and Pythium species were isolated from the seeds. The level of contamination by Fusarium spp and Pythiuta spp was significantly (P=O.05) higher on seeds produced by subsistence farmers than those from seed producers. In the agar test (sterilized seeds), Alternaria spp, Fusarium spp, Pythium spp, Colletotrichum lindemuthianum and M phaseolina were isolated from the farmers seeds. Seed producers seed for line NO.B (0 %) was significantly (P= 0.05) different from subsistence farmers seed (1.4 %). xiv In the grow-on test, Fusarium spp incidence was significantly higher in M22 (18.7 %) and No.B (20 %) at P=0.05 for pre-extension farmers seed than seed producers seed (M22 -3.3 % and No.B- 6.7 %). Seed quality tests were carried out on seed that was obtained from farmers who had participated in seed production at farm level. The threshing method did not have any clear-cut effect on the quality of seed. The percentage germination decreased with increase in storage time. It was concluded that bean diseases was a major factor limiting bean production in the area. Most of bean seeds come from farmers' own seed (75 %). This implies that most farmers use uncertified seed that is of poor quality and thus the need to train farmers in production of quality seed. Fusarium root rot was the most important seed borne disease and Fusarium oxysporumfs.p phaseoii was identified.