Multipurpose Legumes

Lead Organization:

Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization

Community of Practice:

East & Southern Africa


Uganda and Kenya




The Nandi smallholder farming systems are characterized by high population pressure on land, high levels of poverty, low productivity, food insecurity and malnutrition. Maize and beans are the staple crops dominating the systems but the yields are low. The research conducted by the project during the previous phases demonstrated that multipurpose grain legumes have the capacity to improve the productivity of the systems. Significant productivity improvements were recorded following the incorporation of soybean, groundnut, and lablab into systems. Striga reduction and soil fertility improvements increased outputs of both legumes and cereals. But biotic and abiotic stresses (including drought, soil acidity, pests and diseases, and P deficiency) constrain the productivity of the grain legumes, significantly reducing their potential yields and impacts.This phase of research will fine-tune strategies for addressing these constraints. More specifically, the team is working to establish influential soil health factors and appropriate management strategies for addressing these. The team is also  identifing and addressing gender-related factors influencing legume productivity, profitability, marketing and equitable sharing of benefits. To build the capacities of farmers to benefit from legume interventions, the project will contribute to improving the entrepreneurial skills of farmers involved in legume seed production and the production of value-added legume products.

Grant Aims:

To establish and promote context specific interventions that optimize legume and cereal productivity and performance, leading to improved household income, and health and nutritional status.

Outputs and Outcomes:

The influence of soil health on productivity of grain legumes will be established. Key soil health factors affecting production of certain grain legume species and varieties will be analyzed and managed to enhance legume productivity and livelihood.Strategies will be developed and locally adapted for the management of grain legumes in acid, phosphorus deficient soils, and for enhancement of Rhizobium-legume symbiotic associations or improving the productivity of grain legumes in Nandi and neighboring smallholder systems. This will result in enhanced food security, as well as diversified diets, and improved agro-ecological environments.Gender will be mainstreamed in the project research agenda, and gender-related factors influencing legume productivity will be addressed.  These include allocation of production resources, including land, legume production objectives, and preferences for species and varieties. This will lead to greater legume integration into the farming systems, profitability, and equitable sharing of benefits. Factors affecting performance and sustainability of the community-based legume seed production systems will be identified and addressed, leading to improvements in the availability of quality seed. This will lead to increased legume productivity and household income. More smallholder farmers in the current counties of operation (Nandi, Vihiga and Busia), and in the proposed new counties (Kisumu, Migori and Homa Bay), will grow grain legumes due to improved supply of quality legume seed. This will result in enhanced food security, better health and nutrition, increased household income and improved agro-ecological environments in the target counties.The entrepreneurial skills of farmers involved in production of legume seeds will be improved, as will those of people producing legume value-added products, resulting in more availability of the products, enhanced trade, better health and nutrition, increased household income, and general wellbeing of the target communities.Capacity of farmers and researchers will be built through formal and informal training.Pest and disease informational materials will be developed and disseminated, leading to better management of pests and diseases on legumes, improved legume productivity and livelihoods.Two MSc. graduate theses will be completed.Five research papers published in refereed journals.