Sustainable intensification of intercrops of different varieties of common bean with maize improves food security of smallholder farmers


The sustainable intensification of the common bean through intercropping with maize in the long and short rainy season in the middle altitude (1051 m above sea level) is an important element of improving food security on smallholder farms. Due to population growth in the tropical highlands, sustainable food production is important. There are no such long intercropping experiments where intercrops of common bean (improved and/or local variety) with maize have been cultivated for over five cropping seasons.


We summarized the results of five cropping seasons (3 long and 2 short) of field experiments at an altitude of 1051 m above sea level with a good history of crop production. Apart from higher grain yields obtained in intercrops, our study also indicated that land productivity advantages of these intercrops are not affected by the bean varieties, which is an encouraging result that either the improved or local bean variety can be cultivated in intercrop with the maize. However, it was important to note that the dry grains of the improved bean variety Lyamungu 90 were almost twice heavier than the local bean variety Mkanamna at the same measured number, which provided additional factors to be considered to improve income since weight is the acceptable standard in the global market.

Author Comments

Dr. Eliakira Kisetu, PhD
Dr. Eliakira Kisetu, PhD
Sokoine University of Agriculture
Soil and Plant Sciences
Morogoro, Morogoro Municipality | Tanzania, United Republic of
This study is important since, with the high population increase in the tropical highlands, smallholders dominated the altitudes and food production is low due to low resource endowment, which calls for sustainable intensification.Dr. Eliakira Kisetu, PhD

Productivity of intercropping with maize and common bean over five cropping seasons on smallholder farms of Tanzania

European Journal of Agronomy

Eur J Agron. 2020 Jan 113: 125964

Intercropping with maize (Zea mays L.) and common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) is one of the widely used

practices of producing food crops on smallholder farms in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). However, the knowledge on

the options toward intensification of available practices in order to optimize systems productivity using intercrops

is generally lacking. Therefore, this study evaluated the effects of intercropping, cropping seasons, and

different varieties of common bean on productivity of the maize-common bean based intercrop through 5

cropping seasons from 2015 to 2017. Experimental site is located at 03°18 ′03.74′' S and 37°12′13.94′ E and an

altitude of 956m above sea level in the northern highlands of Tanzania. Hybrid maize Dekalb brand (DK 8031)

and two varieties of common bean (improved Lyamungu 90 and local Mkanamna) were used. The treatments

within a replicate were: (1) sole crops: (i) maize, (ii) local bean, (iii) improved bean, and (2) intercrops: (i)

maize+local bean, (ii) maize+improved bean. Interaction and individual effects of cropping seasons (S)

(periods of years – short and long rains), varieties of common bean (V), and cropping systems (C) (sole and

intercrop) were studied. Results indicated that S×V interaction was significant on bean grain yield and 100-

seed weight. Improved bean outweighed the local bean with grain yields ranging from 2.2–3.5 t ha-1 and

0.2–2.5 t ha-1, respectively. The effect of S was significant on all measured variables in beans and the effect of M

was only significant on total biomass. Further, S significantly affected all measured variables in maize and grain

yields ranged from 2.3–2.6 t ha-1. In maize, correlations were strong (r=0.48*; P=0.0325) between maize

grain yield and ground coverage of leaf canopy measured 42–56 days after sowing. The land equivalent ratios

(LERs) for maize intercropped with improved and local beans were 1.48 and 1.55, respectively but LER values

did not differ significantly between bean varieties. In this study, both common bean varieties were sown simultaneously

with the maize, which might have resulted in their differential performance. It is recommended

that studies are conducted to evaluate time of introducing this legume crop to a maize system such as early

sowing, sowing mid in the season after a maize crop is well established, and sowing late in the season when the

leaves in maize plant have started to senesce.

January 2020
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