What can be achieved in two years for the national good? SAGCOT technocrats, in collaboration with a broad network of partners, are committed to bridging the gap in soybean production – elevating it from 20,000 to over 50,000 tonnes – to satisfy domestic demands.
As 2023 draws to a close, the horizon of 2024/25 looms near. A monumental task awaits Tanzania’s agricultural sector, most notably in the soybean industry. Leading this endeavour is the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) with its ambitious Tanzania Sustainable Soybean Initiative (TSSI). This initiative is a concerted effort among key players, including SAGCOT, Farm to Market Alliance (FtMA), World Food Programme (WFP), ASPIRES, and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). Their goal is to significantly escalate Tanzania’s soybean production to an impressive 50,000 tonnes within the upcoming year.”
The Soybean Deficit: A National Concern
Tanzania’s current soybean production oscillates between 5,000 to 20,000 tonnes annually, starkly inadequate compared to the domestic demand of 150,000 tonnes. This gap not only signifies a missed economic opportunity but also highlights a potential threat to food security. During the Nanenane International exhibition, Mr. Abdallah Msambachi, Programme Manager of TSSI, accentuated the need to bolster the soybean industry’s competitiveness, focusing on industrial use and tapping into both domestic and international markets.
Regions at the Forefront
The TSSI extends its operations across six pivotal regions: Songwe, Iringa, Mbeya, Njombe, Rukwa, Ruvuma, and Morogoro. These regions are integral to realizing the objective of increased productivity and production, catering to the exigencies of climate change and market demands. In tandem with the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI), TSSI is pioneering in identifying and distributing suitable soybean seeds, alongside disseminating vital technological know-how to local farmers.
Beyond Crop Yields: Empowering Farmers
Mr. Msambachi elucidates that while soybeans might not directly influence food security, the initiative is crucial in equipping farmers with the technology and knowledge to excel in the soybean market. The program, initiated early this year, is expected to wrap up by March 2024.
Engaging Youth and Enhancing Markets
FtMA Programme Officer – Market, Mr. Lusajo Bukuku, called upon the youth to participate in soybean farming. He stressed the program’s commitment to providing free education on farming techniques, seed selection, and post-harvest processes. Furthermore, FtMA is dedicated to creating better market opportunities for smallholder farmers through partnerships with Farmer Service Centres (FSCs) and other agricultural enterprises.
Value Addition: A Key Strategy
FtMA’s strategy revolves around teaching farmers to add value to their soybean crops. This approach is intended to improve incomes and resilience among smallholder farmers. Twalibu Hubwa, a farmer from Pawaga Ward in Iringa District, attested to the benefits of the program, citing increased yields and enhanced living standards due to the adoption of new agricultural technologies.
A Vision for the Future
As Tanzania strides towards becoming a key player in the soybean market, the collaborative efforts of SAGCOT and its partners seeks to bring a transformation that is not just about meeting production targets; it’s about empowering farmers, fostering sustainable food systems, and bolstering food security.
The Growing Demand for Soya Beans in Tanzania: A Comprehensive Overview
Tanzania, a nation known for its rich agricultural heritage, is witnessing a notable surge in the demand for soya beans. This increasing trend can be attributed to various factors, including expanding livestock production, urbanization, and the rising awareness of the nutritional benefits of soya beans. However, this burgeoning demand is not without its challenges. This article delves into the multifaceted nature of the soya bean market in Tanzania, exploring its drivers, current challenges, and the promising prospects it holds for the nation’s future.
1. Expanding Livestock Production
One of the primary drivers of the soaring demand for soya beans in Tanzania is the growth in the livestock sector. As the country’s economy advances, there is an increasing appetite for animal protein, particularly in poultry and dairy products. Soya beans, being a vital protein source in animal feed, are experiencing a surge in demand directly linked to this sector’s growth. This trend is particularly evident in the burgeoning livestock markets scattered across the country, where the demand for quality feed is ever-increasing.
2. Rising Urbanization and Changing Diets
Urbanization is another significant factor influencing the demand for soya beans. As more Tanzanians relocate to urban areas, there is a noticeable shift in dietary preferences towards processed foods and convenience meals, many of which incorporate soya as a key ingredient. This shift is not only a reflection of changing lifestyles but also the evolving food industry in Tanzania, where soya beans are increasingly used in a variety of food products.
3. Nutritional Benefits
The recognition of soya beans as a rich source of protein, essential fats, and other nutrients has elevated their status in the Tanzanian diet. In regions grappling with food insecurity, soya beans offer a sustainable and affordable source of nutrition, contributing significantly to improving dietary quality among the population.
4. Diversification of Soya Products
The Tanzanian market is witnessing a diversification in the use of soya beans. Beyond traditional applications like cooking oil and animal feed, there is a growing variety of soya-based products such as tofu, tempeh, and soya milk. This diversification not only caters to the evolving consumer tastes but also opens new market opportunities, further driving demand.
5. Government Initiatives
Recognizing the potential of the soya bean value chain, the Tanzanian government has implemented various initiatives to promote its production and utilization. These include research and development programs, improved access to quality seeds and fertilizers, and support for processing facilities. These efforts are aimed at strengthening the soya bean sector and making it more resilient and productive.
Despite the growing demand, the soya bean sector in Tanzania is not without its challenges:
- Low Productivity: Predominantly smallholder farmers dominate soya bean production but often lack access to improved agricultural inputs, leading to suboptimal yields.
- Limited Processing Capacity: The scarcity of processing facilities and adequate storage infrastructure restricts the value addition and market access for local producers.
- Sustainability Concerns: Unsustainable farming practices in soya bean cultivation can lead to environmental issues like deforestation and soil degradation.
The future of the soya bean value chain in Tanzania is promising, with potential benefits that include:
- Enhancing Food Security: By improving nutrition, soya beans can play a pivotal role in combating food insecurity in Tanzania.
- Boosting Rural Incomes: The expansion of soya bean production and processing can create employment opportunities and generate income for rural communities.
- Driving Economic Growth: A robust soya bean sector can significantly contribute to the nation’s overall economic development and growth.
The demand for soya beans in Tanzania is on an upward trajectory, fueled by various economic, social, and nutritional factors. While challenges exist, the sector’s potential to enhance food security, boost rural incomes, and drive economic growth is immense. With strategic interventions and sustained efforts, the soya bean value chain can play a crucial role in shaping Tanzania’s agricultural landscape and its economic future.