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Table 7 Emergent themes from interview data in 2012, Northern Province, Rwanda (n = 59)

From: Farmer knowledge identifies a competitive bean ideotype for maize–bean intercrop systems in Rwanda

Variety characteristic (frequency) Ways farmer determine suitability for an intercrop
Observations and experimentation Comparisons
Trait-based competitive ability (31) ‘There are varieties that have many leaves which can affect the maize, the ones that don’t have many leaves are better in the intercrop’
‘Imvange produces pods at different places, some at the bottom, some in the middle, some at the top. Imvange also doesn’t make competition to the maize in terms of making it fall down because the stems aren’t big’
‘Ngwinurare doesn’t make competition to the maize and the maize doesn’t compete with the beans.’ ‘How so?’ ‘Because it doesn’t have too many leaves and the stems are not big. If I compared Ngwinurare with Kaki–Kaki is tall and grows beyond the maize and can make it fall down. Ngwinurare will not and doesn’t grow that tall’
Intrinsic competitive ability (16) ‘When a bean can resist in the maize. When rain stops there is drops from the maize onto the beans that some beans resist and some beans don’t’
‘To tell if a variety works well in the intercrop, we use a single variety and see if there is resistance to the maize. We test a single variety by itself in the intercrop, not as a bean mixture’
‘When I saw Gasilida in the maize and compared it to kaki, Gasilida grew well to the maize and has resistance in this region’
Universal plant traits (44) ‘When there is good production: there are lots of pods, and there are many seeds in the pods. When the leaves are fresh and big. There are more flowers and the beans are beautiful’ ‘If everything in the soil is the same. There is high production, more flowers, and more pods. If there are no birds during flowering and the taste is good. As in Gasilida, it’s okay in the maize and comparing it with Nyiragisenyi,* Gasilida is better. In Gasilida I harvested 400 g whereas with Nyiragisenyi I only harvested 300. It also tastes better’
Adaptation (13) ‘When the sun is strong beans are better, the maize leaves protects the beans from hail and even from the sun so flowers don’t fall off from the weather’
‘When some of the beans survive it means they have resistance to the soil, the beans are used to the soil. Different ones survive each year. When there are three-four varieties, 1 remains because the rest die—so it has the ability in soil and resistance to the soil. I keep the survivor and I don’t replace it with new types or mixtures’
‘The mixture has resistance to this region and the other varieties do not’
‘I hope to harvest more beans this season because last season wasn’t good. Gasilida is good in the intercrop, Umweru is good in the mono.’ ‘How is Gasilida different then Umweru? What about it?’ ‘Gasilida and Ngwinurare can grow anywhere, in each place, but the others can only grow in the good places’
Management (26) ‘There should be more spacing—beans should be further apart when there is maize’ ‘I first plant maize at a large distance. The spacing for the baby trial was very close—if you use 70 cm between maize plants (it is better) and then plant Nyiragisenyi. The day that you plant the beans you accumulate the soil so the plants grow well. Then you will get maize yields too’
  1. Text is direct quotes, and the numbers are the frequency farmers mentioned the theme
  2. * A local variety