The IITA/SARD-SC maize system soybean production enhancement planning workshop was held from 1-4 February 2016 in Abuja to sensitize and promote soybean cultivation and utilization in Nigeria. The workshop became imperative because of a huge demand for soybean in the country of 2.2million metric tonnes, annually while annual production is 600,000 metric tonnes. Therefore, there is the need to bridge this huge gap. To brainstorm on the strategies to enhance soybean cultivation, eminent soybean scientists from Research Institutes, soybean farmers, poultry farmers, representatives of Seed Companies and other interested stakeholders were in attendance at the workshop. They presented many papers and deliberated on the way forward for soybean production enhancement.
As a complementary crop to the maize commodity value chain in the SARD-SC project, the project is expected to identify and mobilize the strength , expertise and recourse of stakeholders in the maize –soybean value chain among other things. In his opening remarks, Dr. Chrys Akem, SARD-SC project Coordinator, reiterated the importance of Soybean and bemoaned the current low cultivation of the legume in the country. “ So this workshop is an opportunity for us to walk our way back to the glorious old days when we had surplus and revamp soybean cultivation as a companion crop to maize.” Dr. Akem enumerated the many advantages of soy bean as a food and nutritional security in Africa and the many existing high yielding varieties with good resistance to RUST. He mentioned the opportunity for market linkages through the Innovation Platforms while challenging the soybean growers and poultry feed millers to maintain the sustainability of the soybean industry.”
Dr. Sam Ajala, Maize Commodity Specialist stated the objectives of the workshop, which included the need for the participants to map out a focus and a clear goal for the crop in five years, and introduce business led models to market soybeans. In his paper, titled Enhancing Soybean Production within the SARD-SC Maize Project in Nigeria, Professor Kolawole Ojo, SARD-SC Soybean Scientist, stated the economic importance of the crop and the complementary of maize- soybean . “Soybean improves soil fertility through atmospheric nitrogen fixation. Processed soybeans are the world’s largest source of animal fees and the second largest source of vegetable oil,” he said.
Prof. Ojo gave an insight into the direction of the crop under the SARD-SC project as thus: Generation of improved maize and soybean production /utilization technologies; Ensure dissemination/promotion of improved technologies; Enhance food and nutrition security and Contribute to poverty reduction in Africa. Some of the operational strategies to achieve these lofty projections, Prof. Ojo emphasized the importance of partnership with national and international scientists, seed companies, processors, farmers, NGOs, and extension workers among others. Some of the steps to enhance soybean production are capacity building of value chain actors, generation and promotion of preferred maize /soybean varieties that could be adapted to various agro ecologies and tolerant to major biotic and abiotic stresses.
At the workshop were eminent scholars and top shots from the Ministry such as Dr. Obinna George Opara, Director General of NASC , Dr Patience Oyom, Desk Officer, FDA and Dr. Philip Ojo. Dr. Oyom , who presented a paper Collaboration Pathways and Support for Commodity Associations by FMARD: The Views of Soybean Desk Officer(FDA) advised the participants to establish a vibrant National Soybean Association and appoint interim leadership as one of the fundamental steps to revamping soybean cultivation and securing assistance from the ministry. Eminent scholars who delivered papers at the workshop were Prof. Peter Oyekan, retired IITA Soybean Scientist, Dr.A.A. Adegbite, Director of Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, Moor Plantation, Ibadan, and others.