In Summary
  • Farmers are hoarding soybeans in cribs, following a sharp drop in the price of the crop, writes Julius Ocungi.
  • According to Okello, the two varieties take 90 to 108 days in the garden to mature and be harvested unlike other varieties. He says they are also resistant to drought and pests adding that they have quality seeds.

Hundreds of farmers in Acholi sub-region have preferred to hoard tonnes of soybeans in their stores rather than sell due to the low prices on the market.
This has also been further influenced by what some of the farmers refer to as exploitation by middlemen who buy from them cheaply and later sell to big factories at high prices.

Simon Obwoya, a soybean farmer in Lalogi Sub-county Omoro District said the low prices have forced him to hoard his soya bean. Obwoya said although he sold part of the soybeans he harvested cheaply during the festive season, he does not want to make the same mistake this year. He harvested 21 bags of soya beans last season and has only sold two bags.

Optimistic
Obwoya is optimistic that in the coming months ahead, the price of soya beans will increase giving him enough profits.
“We are facing challenges of low prices, many people have produced soya beans in the district [Omoro District] making the product very cheap on the market,” Obwoya explains in an interview on Tuesday.
He noted that due to family demands during the festive season, he sold his soya bean cheaply at Shs1,000 a kilogramme. On average soya beans fetches between Shs1,300 to Shs1,500 a kilogramme.

Market woes
Obwoya says they are also being exploited by middlemen who are taking advantage of the local farmers in Omoro District.
“Last year many people planted soya beans, the climate favoured the crop and many got good harvests. But many middlemen are now roaming within the community buying cheaply from farmers yet in return they get good commissions’ after selling to some of the oil seed companies,” says Obwoya.

He reveals middlemen are buying soybeans at only Shs1,000 from desperate farmers who need quick cash.
Obwoya suggested that the district officials should ban middlemen from buying directly from the farmers and instead connect the major companies dealing in soya beans and soya bean products to approach the farmers on the ground.
“Our farming efforts will be useless if these middlemen are the ones directly buying from farmers, they always want to get high commissions per every kilogramme of soybeans they buy while the farmers are left on the losing end. The district officials should regulate them [middlemen],” he said.

Quinto Okello, another farmer in Omoro District who is facing similar challenges says due to low prices of soya, Okello has been forced to store 45 tonnes of soybeans at his stores in Gem Parish, Lalogi sub-county. He says unlike in January last year when prices for soya beans were fairly high, the drop this season is worrying.
“Last season, we were selling to factories in Lira district at Shs1,350, per kilogramme but now it’ is low at Shs1,100,” Okello says.

The biggest buyers of soya beans within the region are Mt Meru Millers in Lira district and Mukwano Group of Companies who buy a kilogramme of soya beans at Shs1,100 according to Okello.
He noted that at the local market many people have also rejected to buy soya beans at Shs1,200 saying it is expensive.
Okello however is optimistic that by March, the prices of soybeans will shoot up to between Shs1,400 and Shs1,500 per kilogramme.

storage
Patrick Omony, an agricultural extension facilitator at International Institute of Rural Reconstruction [IIRR] in Lalogi sub-county says they have been training farmers on best practices of storing their products and selling at the right time.

Omoro District Chairperson Douglas Peter Okello has advised farmers to embrace value addition if they are to earn profits from soybeans.
Hundreds of farmers are stuck with soybeans following bumper harvests last season. Okello has been instrumental in advising farmers on value chain addition saying the seeds produce good vegetable oil.

“We have encouraged farmers to add value to their soybeans because it is one of the most nutritious foods fetching high prices in the market. Soya beans can be mixed with millet flour and also cooking oil can be extracted from it,” says Okello.
He cited that if value is added to soya beans, the cost per kilogramme can triple giving a farmer high profits.
Okello also noted that through their engagements with local farmers they have been able to link some of the farmers to buyers and factories both within and outside northern Uganda.

He advises farmers not to rush into selling off their products rather form groups so as to tap a bigger market.
Best varieties
The common varieties of soybeans on high demand currently are MAKSOY3N and MAKSOY 4N.
According to Okello, the two varieties take 90 to 108 days in the garden to mature and be harvested unlike other varieties. He says they are also resistant to drought and pests adding that they have quality seeds.

Soybean oil
Soybean oil is extracted from soybeans and is a good source of healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats.

BARE FACTS
Soy milk. Soy milk is a plant-based drink produced by soaking and grinding soybeans, boiling the mixture, and filtering out remaining particulates. It is a stable emulsion of oil, water, and protein.
Alternative. If you are allergic to dairy, lactose intolerant or you just are not crazy about the taste of dairy milk, reach for soy milk.