Vaina Blanca Bean

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Vaina blanca

The vaina blanca (meaning “white pod”) bean plant (Phaseolus vulgaris, L) is a climbing vine plant that grows about 2 meters tall. It is a landrace variety that has a bright black, small and round bean. It takes about 2.5 months from planting until harvest. It is an important part of the local daily diet in Costa Rica, where it is usually served after a cooking time of one hour.   In the area of Bejagual de Aserrí, an isolated community in the area of San José, Costa Rica, the bean has been cultivated without chemical inputs for over 50 years. It was also documented in research by the United States Department of Agriculture in the 1960s. Though this area is isolated from the capital city by poor roads, local residents have organized an association involving nearly 200 members and over 100 families promoting this bean variety as their main product.   Traditionally, the vaina blanca bean was grown mainly for home consumption, but with support from national programs for food security, recently producers have been able to maintain a production level that permits sales. The dried beans can also be transformed into flour. Currently vaina blanca beans can be found at the market of Trueque, in central Costa Rica.   Many Mesoamerican bean varieties, especially smaller ones like vaina blanca, have been lost over the years to increases in cultivation of improved or transgenetic varieties. This is also due to a lack of promotion of their nutritional qualities and resistance to diseases and pests. Vaina blanca beans have also been the basis for creating hybrids of other varieties, decreasing the availability of pure beans and representing a loss of biodiversity resources. Lastly, imports of inexpensive beans grown in South America and overseas have created an economic disadvantage for domestic bean producers. 

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StateCosta Rica

San José

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