By Checky Abuje
Soya bean farming has in the recent past become the centre of focus and attraction to various stakeholders in the agricultural sector including Anglican Development Services (ADS) where more than 2000 farmers from Busia county are set to venture into and benefit from that food chain after a three year partnership deal between the county government and the Faith- based organization.
In a move seen to intensify and diversify farming in Western Kenya, the Anglican Development Services has come up with an elaborate plan to introduce the new soya bean variety (SB19) which if embraced will translate into economic sustainability of the people of Western Kenya.
According to Anglican Development Services programmes and Fundraising Partnership Manager Rev. Oscar Ekesa, the project dubbed “2Scale” is geared towards high productivity and Socio-Economic empowerment of farmers in the vast Western region of Kenya to alleviate poverty that affects close to 80%of the population.
Agriculture being the backbone of Kenya’s economy and with introduction of Soya bean farming in the fertile farm lands of Western Kenya, there is hope for the farmer to produce double fold given the ecological factors favouring already existing crops in the region like maize, millet, sorghum, cassava and others, support the growth of Soya beans as well.
In Busia county, the crop will be piloted in Nambale, Teso South and Teso North before it spreads across the seven sub-counties.
The SB19 Soya Bean has been certified and approved by Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research organization (KALRO) as best suited to do better in the ecological environment of Western Kenya. The researchers at KALRO have predicted that the new variety has the ability to produce upto 1.2 tonnes of Soya per acre per season, with profit turnover of between Kshs. 10,000 – 12,000 in a span of 3months.
Speaking to Africa Science News after hosting a delegation from the Anglican Development Services, Busia county department of agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries minister Dr. Moses Mwenje Osia reiterated the double advantage of Soya to the farmer in Busia saying the crop will enrich the soil because if it’s nitrogen fixing ability thus increasing productivity in other crop food chains.
Osia disclosed that the county government of Busia has already put in place mechanisms and measures to curtail the exploitation of the farmer by middle men and cartels in the Agricultural sector who thrive at the expense of poor farmer who is also the producer in the entire chain.
Already the county department of Agriculture has identified aggregators and is in the process of strengthening cooperative Societies as a way of ensuring ready market for the product. Equatorial Nuts Processors is the giant market for soya beans in Kenya.
However, among the challenges facing the farmer in this region is agronomical factors. The county government of Busia has, in the spirit of commitment and support to the farmers intervened to address the agronomical challenges which include capacity building, disease and pest control and farmer awareness.
According to the partnership deal seen by Africa Science News, the three year contract (2020 – 2023) will see farmers sign a contractual agreement with Anglican Development Services (ADS) as a safeguard measure to eliminate brokers.
Samwel Akolo, Nutrition and food security officer at ADS said the project will address three constraints in Busia county namely: access to seed, Market availability which is a key challenge to farmers and contractual farming that gives the farmer a surety of good income from soya farming. A kilo of soya will sell at Kshs 50.
The project will run across Western Kenya in Kakamega, Bungoma, Trans-Nzoia, Siaya and Busia Counties respectively.