Soybean: On Becoming a Highly Coveted Crop
In Nigeria, the consumption of soybean has increased over the years driven by the poultry, fishery and edible oil industries. Between 2012 and 2020, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture of Nigeria forecasted a growth of 51% for the fishery industry and 20% of the poultry industry under its Agricultural Transformation Agenda. Soybean meal is a vital and preferred source of protein in compound feed and accounts for 20%-30% in poultry feed and 20% of fish feed composition. Furthermore, soybean oil is currently recognized as alternative to palm oil by various industries. There is a growing trend in soybean consumption as it is the second most consumed and produced vegetable oil in the world, accounting for 28% of oils produced after palm oil at 37% (FBNQuest, 2016).
Despite the growing demand from the poultry and edible oils industries, the production and supply still does not meet the demand in Nigeria. In 2015/2016, Nigeria produced approximately 680,000 Tons of soybean, failing to meet the domestic demand estimated at 2.2Million Tons in 2016 due to low yields.
Nigeria is the second highest producer of soybean in Africa after South Africa, whose production was 740,000 Tons in the same year; this is though the area harvested by Nigeria is 28% higher than that of South Africa with 700,000Ha (figure 1).
Moreover, in Zambia, the third highest producer in Africa, in 2015/2016 the land cultivated was 16% of the land cultivated in Nigeria, but with a yield 52% higher.
One of the key issues constraining the production of soybean is the limited use of improved varieties. Several organizations including the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the National Cereal Research Institute (NCRI) have developed several improved varieties of soybean seed. However, adoption has been low because farmers prefer the TGX 1448-2E variety, the most popularly used in the country. Although the variety is a high yielding seed, the practice among farmers including re-using the same seed for multiple planting cycles has contributed to the low yields.