Production of soya increased by 18% in the year 2019/20 according to a report released by the Uganda National Bureau of Statistics (UBOS). However, this was not enough to stop a persistent scarcity.
The current scarcity of soya on the market is gradually affecting the livestock industry. Some of the leading feeds producers who depend on soya have suspended production due to this scarcity.
“I have suspended producing pellets because of soya scarcity,” Dr Joseph Kizito of Bulemezi Agrovet says.
He says a kilogramme has risen from sh3,300 a few months ago to sh5,000, which is too high verses the cost of feeds.
The report says the leading producing areas included Lango with over 89,000 metric tonnes, Acholi with 15,000 metric tonnes and Busoga with 8,000 metric tonnes. However, this was not enough to beat the supply requirements.
Soya has a 45% protein content, higher than mukene. It is now gradually being used as a replacement for the previously more expensive mukene in livestock feeds. Before the current scarcity, soya cost at least sh500 cheaper thanmukene (silver fisher).
Soya is also used for processing nutritious flour, oil and ‘soya milk’. However, scarcity is affecting this. The difference is that whereas production of soya can be determined by farmers, that of mukene cannot be determined because it grows wildly in lakes.
“We need to increase the production of soya in the country, so that we stop depending on mukene to process livestock feeds because mukene is scarce,” says Dr Samuel Ssewagudde, a veterinary officer and livestock expert working with Trouw Nutrition, Netherlands and Champrisa International.
Ssewagudde says it will be easy for the country to determine how much protein source they had if it was grown compared to when getting it from the lake. Mukene is mainly harvested from Lake Albert and Lake Victoria.
“For mukene, fishermen go to the lakes not even sure of how much they will pick from there, however, if we grow soya on the land, it will be easy to predict how much we shall produce and then plan for it,” he says.
Chris Magezi, the director Champrisa International, says farmers must not worry about market for soya.
“Demand has been rising in the country and the region for the last few years. To meet this demand, Uganda imports soya from countries like South Africa and as far as Brazil,” Magezi says.
In Uganda, apart from small scale feeds mixers who need soya, larger livestock feeds companies like Ugachick, Biyinzika, Bulemezi and Mukwano need soya in large amounts.
Anthony Wanyoto from the Vegetable Oil Development Programme (VODP) at the agriculture ministry says soya is one of the money crops that farmers should embrace because of its increasing demand.
“Demand is so high because research keeps innovating new uses of the product. Uganda has the potential to produce enough soya to feed the region,” he says.
Soya can be grown anywhere
Soya can be grown in most regions of Uganda. Therefore, this means that anybody with land can invest in it, during the coming planting season. From the east, central and north of the country, the soils favor soya production. Loam soils with the regular rainy seasons are enough.
To invest in an acre of soya, a farmer growing it commercially spends sh2-sh3m. Average yield from the common varieties is 3,000kg (3tonnes) per acre. Price per kg at normal harvest ranges from sh2,500 to sh3,000 at farm-gate. This gives between sh7.5m and sh9m per acre.