I planted soya on three acres and I am expecting to start harvesting soon. What are the best practices I must follow during harvest in order to avoid losses?
Musa Isabirye, Kamuli
Answer: Demand for soya has been rising in the country and the region for the last few years. To meet this demand, Uganda actually imports soya from countries like South Africa and as far as Brazil. And yet, soya can be grown in most regions of Uganda. Therefore, this means that anybody with land can invest in it.
To invest in an acre of soya, a farmer growing it commercially spends around sh2-3m. Average yield from the common varieties is 3,000kg (3 tonnes). The price per kilo ranges between sh2,500 and sh3,000. This gives between sh7.5m and sh9m per acre.
Harvesting and post- harvest management
Harvest when pods give a rattling sound when shaken. Delayed harvesting leads to pod shattering and poor seed germination later, if you want to replant the same seeds.
The mature plants may be uprooted or cut at ground level and loosely staked for later threshing.
Farmers are advised never to heap harvested soybeans when they are damp as it reduces seed quality. Harvest in dry conditions so that the drying process is not affected by wet weather.
The harvested plants should be spread on a platform and sun dried to 14-15% moisture content before threshing. Threshing can be done manually for small quantities or mechanically. It is important that seed of different varieties are threshed on different days to avoid mixing of the varieties.
Dry the seeds thoroughly to about 10% moisture content; it should not be possible to dent the beans with your teeth. Store grains in sacks or bags in a well-ventilated store. Store seeds for planting in plastic bags to prevent moisture absorption, keep the seed in a cool dry part of the house on raised benches.
At every planting time, use seed harvested in the pre-seeding season to avoid poor germination.
Livestock feeds processors now buy soya as a protein supplement while mixing feeds. These should form your first market inquiry after harvesting. It is important that you inform them about your crop before harvest time.
Soya is also the best recipe for infant flour such as the famous
Baby Soya. There are now several companies processing these beverages in Uganda. Others have gone ahead and even processed ‘soya milk’ and ‘soya meat’ from the crop. Soya is also used to vegetable oil, which is currently on the market.