Soybeans has indeed become a commercial crop in Zambia.
Looking at the way people are buying soybeans for planting this season it means they have now known that it is indeed the ‘Gold That Grows’.
In Zambia it is a trend when someone starts any or is involved in some productive activity others would follow amass. Look at the salaula in the street, few started selling such items as used clothing and people were encouraged not to feel shy, just bend down and pick and pay what you can afford.
Fritters are almost at every corner of the compound streets, green maize name it. This is how the soybeans has come on the market, small and big farmers have now engaged themselves in the production of this crop.
Soybeans is one crop which has no restrictions in terms of export unlike our staple food maize. The thing is very little is used for human consumption at the moment compared to maize. Why then that we have so many farmers who have opted to go into soybeans production.
Soybeans has a number of uses that people do not see. We have a lot of cooking oil coming from soybeans, the soy cake that is a byproduct of soy processing is being used by a good number of food processors making very rich protein foods such as soy chunk, soy biscuits, soy porridge and indeed our super markets dotted all over the country are selling some of these products.
For livestock soy meal is used to make feed for the poultry industries. All that has been mentioned needs the soy input for the manufacturing industries to operate and hence create jobs for the jobless.
The poultry industry is growing hence the need to have feed made for the birds is getting larger by the day. Millers involved in feed making are many and they have to be supplied with this precious product for them to be in business.
For any country to develop it all starts with agriculture, people must eat in order for them to do anything in their livelihood. In Zambia soybean growing started seriously in the 1980s when farmers used to call it the “Gold that Grows” as of today it has indeed grown to the extent that almost every soybean processor has increased the production of the already mentioned products because the farmers have managed to supply this crop as per needs of these food processors making the disposal of the grown soy crop easy because whatever is produced is taken up by the soybean processing companies.
To tell the truth they still need more to feed their factories. Therefore, it is incumbent upon these farmers not to fail this coming rainy season to grow this crop as the needed moisture would e that the crop needs.
Farmers have also realized that soya bean production is more uncreative than maize production and the price offered is for better than the maize. Maize as we know it is energy food because of its high carbohydrate content and an animal needs to grow, this is when soya bean comes in because this crop has high protein content. Proteins are for growth and building of the body tissues.
Protein counted is therefore used to the fullest by the poultry feed producers.
This protein, since it is locally grown and available this cuts the importation of other expensive protein products such as fish meal or bone and blood meal from outside.
In the past years, in the times of Cold Storage Board(CBBZ) meat, bone and blood meal were being processed locally as feed concentrates for livestock feed production.
Today one has to import these same products at a great cost if such is to be used as an ingredient for this purpose.
To those joining the soybean growing should know this that soybean, when growing especially at emergency, coming out from the soil it may show poor germination instead of a uniform emergency and growth. This is because dormancy does not easily break especially in cases where water or rainfall is not even, the soybean seed requires enough water for it to start its growth or germination from the soil. Therefore, when planting soybean seeds there must be enough soil moisture and the soil – seed contact must be good. The other thing is whenever a farmer thinks of growing soybean it is better for this soybean to follow a well grown and harvested maize crop for it to utilize the left over fertilizers.
For commercial farmers usually the soya bean production can follow wheat after harvesting and soya beans would still benefit from the left over fertilizers.
Coming to the history of this wonderful crop. In some Asian countries especially in the Far East it was grown for food before it spread to the new world that is the Americas and Europe. The production was for cooking oil, human food and of course stock feed.
In Africa soybean production is very recent however, it is spreading like wild fire. In Zambia it has been a minor crop for a long time until in the 1980s when it started getting established on a larger scale and today soybeans grows well in any area where maize does well.
Today so many farmers have taken to soybeans production and most suppliers have run out of seed this season and this shows how serious these farmers are.
Above all the price being offered by the processors is better than maize the staple food of the nation. The advice is that those who have learned the technic of growing this crop must continue but they should not forsake the locally grown crop of maize because the rural farmer may take a while to adopt and incorporate this crop in their farming activities.
Varieties available in Zambia are as follows Lukanga, Magoye, Kaleya, are available in the country, for farmers to choose from. All these of course, they need an inoculum to give them a good start.
Indeed a large scale production of this crop would help improve nutrition in the Zambian communities.
Soya beans can be prepared in so many ways depending on the needs. Therefore, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Health should work together to promote the production of this crop for the sake of mother Zambia.