SNEAK-PEAK IN THE SOYBEAN VALUE-CHAIN
Introduction and overview
Soybean is a versatile and highly nutritious crop thus very important for the agricultural industry and has gained popularity in Uganda. Soybean is an economically viable and environmentally friendly crop that is a key raw material for vegetable oil, feeds, and food. It promotes sustainable cropping systems by improving soil fertility through the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen and also disrupts the life cycle of several pests and diseases.
It is encouraged as a rotation crop to improve productivity of other crops being grown (Tukamuhabwa and Obua,2015). Its dense canopy helps to conserve soil water moisture and suppress weeds in the soybean field. Its extensive root network maintains the soil structure and promotes infiltration, crucial for absorption of water and nutrients.
In this report, we will examine the current state of soybean value chain in Uganda as well as its opportunities and challenges.
Soybean was first introduced to Uganda in the 1980s as a crop that could improve soil fertility and provide a protein-rich food source. The soybean plant is a hardy and resilient crop that can thrive in various soil types and climatic conditions.
Uganda is well-suited for soybean production due to its favorable climate and fertile soil. Soybean cultivation in Uganda is carried out by both small-scale farmers and large commercial farmers.
Over the years, soybean has become an important crop in Uganda, especially for small-scale farmers who use it for both food and income.
Today, soybean is grown in various regions of Uganda, including the northern, eastern, central and western regions. The crop is usually grown in the rainy season, between March and May, and harvested in August or September. The majority of farmers grow soybean on small plots of land and use traditional methods of cultivation.
Small-scale farmers typically use traditional techniques and hand-held tools, while commercial farmers use modern equipment and technologies to optimize production.
The season of harvesting of Soybean depends on the time of sowing and the variety grown. For each farmer, how long harvest takes depends on how many acres they farm, how many people they have helping out, the size of their equipment and how many combines, tractors and semis they have running.
Presently, Soybean has a wide range of uses and here are some of the common uses:
- Used as food. Soybean is used to make a variety of food products, including tofu, soy milk, tempeh, miso, soy sauce, and textured vegetable protein (TVP). Soybean oil is also a popular cooking oil and is used in many processed food products.
- Used as animal feed. Soybean is a primary ingredient in animal feed for livestock, poultry, and aquaculture.
- Used to make industrial products: Soybean is used to produce a variety of industrial products, such as biodiesel, plastics, adhesives, and lubricants.
- Health supplement production. Soybean is used to produce health supplements, such as soy protein powders and is flavone supplements, which are popular among athletes and health-conscious consumers.
- Soil improvement. Soybean is a nitrogen-fixing crop, which means it can add nitrogen to the soil, improving soil fertility and reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers.
According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, soybean is grown in various regions of the country, with the highest acreage in the central and eastern regions.
Soya bean is the number one income earner crop in Northern and Eastern Uganda. Farmers earn approximately UGX 1,200,000 per hectare per season.
Challenges of the Soybean Value chain in Uganda
Despite the positive trends in soybean production in Uganda, there are several challenges facing the soybean seed growing system and soybean production in Uganda. These include:
- Counterfeit seed on the market. This is worsened by Pests and diseases and the breakdown of crop resistance. Good quality seed is quite expensive for farmers to afford.
- Weak policy enforcement which would otherwise improve the value chain performance.
- Climate change. This includes unpredictable weather conditions, such as droughts, floods, and extreme temperatures, which makes yield forecast hard for farmers as well as breeders of seed on a research level.
- Labor inefficiency in the production chain during planting, weeding, and harvesting, which reduces yield quality.
- Dysfunctionality of farmers’ groups and marketing activities.
- Price fluctuations. Soybean prices are highly volatile which undermines planning and usually shifts the customer’s attention away from the product’s features to its price.
Soybean prices are influenced by global demand and supply factors, such as changes in consumption patterns, trade policies, and production trends in major producing and consuming countries.
- Transportation costs, such as freight charges for exporters impacts the price of soybean.
- Storage and handling costs can also impact soybean prices, especially if there are bottlenecks in the
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?
To expand the opportunities for further growth of the soybean value chain, a couple of measures can be undertaken, including:
- Value addition: Value addition is critical to the success of the soybean value chain. Processors add value to soybeans by producing soybean oil and meal, which are used in a wide range of products, such as food, feed, and biofuels. By adding value to soybeans, processors are able to increase their profitability, curb price fluctuation, and provide a market for farmers.
- Strengthening of linkages: The soybean value chain demonstrates the importance of linkages between different actors in the value chain. Farmers, processors, traders, and retailers need to work together to ensure that soybeans are produced, processed, and sold in a way that benefits everyone in the value chain.
- Technology adoption: Technology adoption is critical to the success of the soybean value chain. Soybean farmers need to further adopt new technologies, such as genetically modified seeds, which have led to higher yields and increased profitability.
- Risk management: The soybean value chain involves a significant amount of risk, including production risks, market risks, and price risks. Farmers and other actors in the value chain need to adopt strategies to manage these risks, such as diversifying their production, using forward contracts, and hedging.
- Sustainable practices: The soybean value chain has also demonstrated the importance of adopting sustainable practices. Soybean farming can have negative environmental impacts, such as deforestation, but farmers and other actor in the value chain can adopt sustainable practices, such as no-till farming and agroforestry, to reduce these impacts.
Future prospects for the Soybean Value Chain
In recent years, the demand for soybean has increased significantly due to its various uses, including as a source of protein for both human consumption and livestock feed. There are also opportunities for growth in the soybean sector in Uganda. The increasing demand for soybean products, both domestically and internationally, presents a significant opportunity for farmers and companies to increase production and improve their livelihoods.
Additionally, the potential for value addition, such as processing soybean into soy flour, soybean milk, yogurt, oil, etc. could also help to increase the profitability of the crop.
The country has experienced rapid growth in soybean cultivation in recent years, with the government actively promoting its production as a way to increase food security and economic growth.
In order to increase the productivity and profitability of soybean farming in Uganda, the government and other organizations are working to provide farmers with access to improved seeds, fertilizer, and other inputs. Additionally, efforts are being made to enhance the capacity of farmers to better manage their farms, including the provision of training and extension services.
In conclusion, soybean is a promising crop for Uganda due to its high nutritional value and numerous uses. Uganda has made significant progress in growing and promoting the crop, and there is potential for further growth in the sector with continued support and investment.