Soybean Local seed business the fuel for small holder farmers.
Soybean production has gradually increased in Uganda with northern Uganda being the highest producer compared to other regions and proving a major cash crop for different households.
And the presence of local seed business has been at the forefront to increasing adoption of quality seed in their different local communities. Local seed businesses produce Quality declared seed with a green label.
Soybean is the world’s most important vegetable oil crop, providing the cheapest source of protein for both human and livestock diets. Soybean protein contains all the essential amino acids; and contains significant amounts of minerals (Fe, Zn, Ca, Mg); the oil is 85% unsaturated comprised of linoleic and oleic acid shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. Therefore, soybean can boost the nutritional status of individuals and communities involved in its production and utilization.
The target market for LSBs was mainly their local communities however their market scope has increased since several people travel from different areas to purchase their seeds.
It’s estimated that quality seed contributes 20%-25% increase in yield. Farmers are gradually adopting purchase of quality seed as most of them used to buy grain in the local market and plant it as seed. Up to 27.4% of the households purchased seed from the local market according to a soy bean survey.
The use of grain is common especially for open pollinated varieties and self-pollinated varieties, such as beans and groundnut.
Demand for seed has gradually increased in the past year and in season A 2022, farmers were faced by a shortage of seed due to large demand from other areas and seed companies. This scarcity escalated the price of soy bean seed from 5000USH to between 7,000 and 10,000USH a kilogram and yet it was still barely available.
According Ben Wokorach the CEO of 49ners local seed business in Gulu, they were able to sell 13,000kgs of Soy bean seed and still had a deficit of an estimated 20,000kgs that was demanded for but they had nothing left in the store.
” This year’s demand was totally out of this world; we were overwhelmed by the demand from several areas and yet we couldn’t supply.” He explained.
According to the Soy bean survey report of Uganda, the most commonly grown variety are Maksoy 1N, 2N, 3N,5 N,6N and also Nam 2 and Nam 4M.
However, the common breed produced by the local seed businesses are Maksoy varieties bred by Makerere university. The varieties produced by Makerere include Maksoy 1N,2N, 3N,4N,5N 6N however the most popular varieties produced by LSB’s are 3N, 5N and 6N.
Aidah Abia from Bala women and youth cooperative in Kole also lamented that climate change has been one of the factors affecting the production of Soy bean seeds in her area. The rains are so unpredictable and this affects yield and also the quality of seed produced as the seeds tend to be smaller than expected. Most farmers in the group also have personal financial challenges that affect the production of seed on a large scale. The cooperative has contracted farmers who produce seed in their individual fields and later market together.
However, according to Aidah, demand for seed is more than they can supply. She explained that this season A 2022’s harvest is soon and several people have already booked the seed even before the harvest.
Onapa Robert a farmer from Bala has with joy praised the Maksoy varieties. “These seeds are so good, what I get when I plant Maksoy 3N and 6N is very incredible, the seeds are big and the yield is worth it compared to the local varieties we used to plant. Maksoy 3N grows tall, has several pods and takes long to shatter compared to our local varieties, the difference is very visible and when other farmers visit my garden, they are left in awe. “