By UKF Team
Soy Bean has always been a golden grain. A grain that has been involved in trade wars between the United States and China during the Trump administration. It is a grain that experts say is slowly eliminating the Amazon forest in Brazil because more land is needed to produce the golden grain and, the world cannot get enough of it. In short, soybean is the protein fountain of the world.
The United Kenya Farmer’s team attended a governance conference on soybean value chain analysis which was held today at the Bungoma Anglican Church thanks to 2SCALE and ADS-W. The main agenda of this quarterly conference was, “Reflecting on the soybean commercialization project milestones and brainstorming on the next step.” Experts from 2SCALE, ADS-W, Syngenta Foundation Kenya, Equity Bank, Hand in Hand East Africa, a major agro-dealer in the county and extension officers from Bungoma County were on hand to lend farmers better tips for soybean growing, harvesting, value addition and post-harvest management. Traceability and seed multiplication, markets as well as how to run farming as a business, were also other key vital issues that were discussed extensively.
2SCALE and ADS-W, in collaboration with farmers in western Kenya counties including Bungoma, are in the second phase of assisting Kenyan businesses in obtaining high-quality soybean produce for manufacture. The second phase, which began in 2019, is set to conclude in mid-2024. Apart from partnering with ADS-W, 2SCALE’s projects are implemented by three additional organisations: IFDC, SNV, and bopinc. This programme is funded by the Dutch government, and its major goal is to guarantee that low-income persons (individuals at the base of the pyramid) in urban areas have access to inexpensive nutritional food. 2SCALE has been operating in over 10 countries in Africa for the past 10 years.
According to Mr Eric Kataka of 2SCALE, his organisation collaborates with farmers in farming regions by forming agribusiness cluster groups of 30 member growers. 2SCALE intervenes in collaboration with KEPHIS and KALRO to ensure that the farmers plant quality seeds acceptable to various markets. 2SCALE does not buy the produce from farmers but rather links the farmers with off-takers like Equatorial Nut Processor for the production of bop products. 2SCALE also promotes value addition at the cottage level by strengthening MSMEs.
Apart from that, his organization works with the likes of Mr Sammy of Sitabicha Producer Marketing CBO from Kabuchai to multiply their seeds. This means that a farmer like Mr Sammy gets good seeds from 2SCALE and grows the grains to be used later as seeds. Syngenta Foundation is also playing a key role in helping farmers get good soya bean seeds. According to Mr Dan Simotwo, a researcher from Syngenta Foundation Bungoma and Busia branch, their main aim is to try different varieties of seeds and come up with seeds that suit local soils and weather conditions. He also help farmers access quality and certified seed but at their own cost.
The key pointers for the farmers in the seminar were from Mr Patrick Boro, Country team leader of 2SCALE Kenya. Mr Boro pointed out:
- The need for ownership of the project by farmers
- Long-term farming mentality
- The need for good seed traceability and preservation
- Agribusiness development and growth
- Regulation of land subdivision
Farmers were also well represented in the seminar, with one Mrs Josephine, who is a local soybean value addition champion leading the charge. We also had Mr John Nyanja a CBO patron from Bumula County present in the meeting. Thank Mr Nyanja and John Ashitiva from ADS-W United Kenya Farmers was able to be invited to the seminar as an active stakeholders in soybean production in the country. Hand in Hand East Africa was represented by Mr Peti Brian who emphasized good money management skills by the farmer in order to reap big in their farming journey. This was further asserted by Mr Wanyonyi from Equity Bank. My Wanyonyi claimed that farmers in Kenya are among the biggest loan defaulters. He further said that his bank is willing to lend to farmers to boost their production, but there is a need for them to take farming more seriously. Farmers present also raised issues that limit them from flourishing, some of the issues raised were:
- Climate change
- Financial constraints
- Soya bean pricing
- Minimal value-addition practices in the region
Extensive commercial soya bean farming in western Kenya can only be harnessed through contract group farming. This is because land subdivision has been on the rise. It is becoming very hard to find farmers growing on more than 3 acres of land in counties like Bungoma, Busia and even Kakamega. Population pressure is also playing a role with more people in need of space to put up houses, hence competing with crop production. However, as drought continues to wreak havoc on one-half of the Kenyan territory, Western Kenya remains green with rains that are enough to sustain crop production. It is then the duty of the region to feed the rest of the country. Our company together with other key stakeholders invests in our farmers to produce commercially to ensure food security all over the country. It may seem like a small step, but it sure will go a long way.