Farmers in Migori, who had been left desperate following the exit of a company that had for years contracted them to grow tobacco, have now found hope in soya beans.
Francis Masiaga, a farmer from the Bugumbe Soya Farmers’ Cooperative Society, said intercropping soya with maize has resulted in better harvest.
“We have been selling a kilo of soya, which has mixed varieties, for Sh53 per kg while the pure varieties fetch as much as Sh75 per kg,” Masiaga said, adding that the climate in the area is very suitable for soya.
Christine Mwita said farmers should be taught better methods of farming through extension support.
The farmers now appreciate soya for improving their soils by fixing nitrogen and eliminating the striga weed from their farms. They called on the county government to provide continuous agricultural extension services to soya farmers to enable them harness the full potential of the crop.
Amb Daniel Wambura, the principal administrative secretary in the Office of the Deputy President, urged farmers to step up production of soya beans as a high value crop that would create more sustainable jobs along the value chain and generate income for many people in the area.
Wambura encouraged extension workers to support agriculture in the county by providing extension services in a timely basis to enhance productivity.
He noted that pricing of the crop is affected by lack of post-harvest handling information by farmers.
Speaking at a forum held in one of the buying centres in Getonganya in Migori, Eric Ouma, the field procurement manager from Equatorial Nut Processors Ltd, said the company required more than six million kilogrammes of soya beans annually to process various food products and has been importing to meet the shortage.
“We will have a shortage of more than two million kilograms of soya by December this year if farmers in the country do not produce more,” he said, adding that they had bought all the 900kg brought by farmers from the area at Sh53 per kg.
He advised farmers to strive to have clean grains when threshing to attract better prices.
Wambura said the office of the deputy president is collaborating with the State Department of Agriculture and several partners to increase incomes of all soya bean farmers in the country.
This, he said, is being done by supporting the production and distribution of quality seeds under the traditional high value crops programme overseen by the department.
“The government will assist farmers and enhance their access to ready local and export markets by supporting the formation of strong farmer marketing structures,” he said
He called for the development of tailor-made programmes by agricultural extension staff to build the capacity of farmers in the production of high value crops.
He disclosed that a recent monitoring and evaluation survey on the cost of soya bean production had revealed that farmers stood to reap good returns from the crop that can be grown three times a year.
Soya beans are used as raw material in livestock and poultry feed industries, edible vegetable oil processing industries, and in the production of soya meat like Sossi, high-energy flour and beverages.
The county director of agriculture Florence Onyango said plans were underway to ensure that farmers got technology for threshing their beans.
She pointed out that people have not been aware of the potential benefits of the crop’s nutritional value and the various forms in which soya bean and its products can be utilised at the household level. “The county had expanded the acreage under soya to 2,000 acres and under the best conditions farmers would be able to harvest 800 to 900 kilogrammes per acre,” Onyango said.