History of soybean Production in Africa

The earliest known cultivation of soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merrill)  in Africa was in Egypt in 1858, followed by Tunisia in 1873, Algeria in 1880 (Soyinfo Centre). Other sources urgue that soybean was introduced to Algeria by Trabut, a French agronomist at a government botanical station in 1896. Algeria, a French colony was important to France as a place for acclimatization of plants, especially soybean. The next record of soybean cultivation in Africa was in 1903 when they were grown in South Africa at Cedara in Natal and in the Transvaal. According to Rhodesian Agricultural Journal (1906), soybean was first cultivated in Zimbabwe in 1906. Soybean was also introduced to Mauritius in 1907 by P. Boname (Boname 1910; Moutia, in Whigham 1975).

Brief Chronology of Soybeans in Africa

Country

Year

Egypt

1858

Tunisia

1873 (Matagrin, 1939)

Algeria

1860 (Epremesnil,1860); 1880 (Paillieux, 1880)

South Africa

1903 (Burtt-Davy, 1905)

Zimbabwe

1906 (Rhodesian Agricultural Journal, 1906)

Tanzania

1907

Mauritius

1908 (Boname, 1910)

Democratic Republic of (DRC)

1908 (Engelbeen, 1948)

Ghana

1909 (Mercer-Quarshie, 1975)

Kenya

1909

Tunisia

1909 (Itie, 1910)

Malawi

1910

Nigeria

1910

Sierra Leone

1910

Zambia

1910

Madagascar

1911 (Delmotte, 1919)

Sudan

1912 (Kaltenbach, 1936)

Uganda

1913  (Rubaihayo, 1969)

Cameroon

1914 (Grimme, 1920)

Mozambique

1915 (Daenhardt, 1973)

Morocco

1921 (Kaltenbach, 1936)

Mali

1923 (Vuillet, 1924)

Burundi

1927 (Lejune, 1938)

Rwanda

1927 (Lejune, 1938)

Libya

1927 (Vivenza, 1928)

Somalia

1927 (Vivenza, 1928)

Angola

1928 (Abreu Velho, 1938)

Swaziland

1932 (Lochrie, 1934)

Guinea

1935 (Porteres, 1946)

Lesotho

1936 (Sampson, 1936)

Benin

1939 (Matagrin, 1939)

Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

1939 (Matagrin, 1939)

Togo

1939 (Matagrin, 1939)

Burkina Faso

1942 (Chevalier, 1948

Ethiopia

1945 (Madison Survey, 1945); 1950 (Mengistu, 1981)

Central African Republic

1952 (Hardy, 1954)

Gabon

1952 (Hauser, 1952)

Cape Verde, Eritrea, and Liberia

1960

 Senegal

1963. (IRATCNRA, 1964)

Liberia

1964 (Kromah, 1975)

Comoro Islands

1971 (IRAT-Comores, 1972)

Niger

1974 (Larcher, 1988)

Chad

1975 (Akintayo, 1995)

Botswana

1976 (Judy & Whigham, 1978)

 Djibouti

1978 (USDA, 1978)

Guinea Bissau

1981 (Jackobs and Erickson, 1984)

Equatorial Guinea

1990 (Lequeau, 1991)

 

Source: Soyinfo Center (compiled by William Shurtleff & Akiko Aoyagi)

The first effort to establish soybean in East Africa was in Amani (Tanzania) in 1907 and 1909 with introductions from the U.S.A. This effort was not quite successful and further trials were made in 1911 with seeds from China, Japan and South Africa. By about 1920 trials were being done by departments of agriculture in all the three East African countries of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

In Uganda, soybean is believed to have been first cultivated in about 1913 (Rubaihayo, 1969). Soybean variety trials were started in the late 1930s at Bukalasa and Serere, and by 1940 promising varieties were multiplied  for distribution to farmers (Rubaihayo, 1966), after which  East African countries natives started growing soybeans and trading it  with Indian traders. By 1943, large scale planting of soybeans started in Buganda from where the crop extended to Ankole, Toro, Bunyoro, Busoga and Lango. The total amount of soybean produced by Uganda rose from 0 in 1938 to 2.6 metric tons in 1946 (FAO, 1948).

Soybean exports between 1944 and 1952 rose to a peak of 4,314 tons valued at £38,799 before declining. These soybeans were grown as part of Uganda’s contribution to Britain’s war-time and post-war needs. Thereafter the market collapsed and production fell to a low level but persisted nevertheless over large areas of Uganda. According to Uganda Department of Agriculture records, experimental yields of 1,100 Kg Ha-1 were being obtained in 1955 without the use of fertilizers. By 1960, 53 soybean cultivars were introduced to Uganda from the United States, South Africa, Nigeria and Trinidad.

In 1965, Africa Basic Foods (ABF), black Africa’s first soyfoods company was started in Uganda by Dr. D.W. Harrison, a black American and Seventh-day Adventist medical missionary. It was about this same year that renewed interest in soybean got re activated due to the presence of this new company (Rubaihayo, 1969).

With the support of the Rockefeller Foundation serious research work was restarted with cooperation between the Uganda government at Kawanda Research Station and the Faculty of Agriculture at the University Farm, Kabanyolo. The major objectives were; to improve the genotypes available to growers by means of selection from the assembled pool of varieties and by hybridization. The other work focused on o critical examination of all aspects of crop management suitable to the local conditions in East Africa.

SOYBEAN is the most nutritious crop in the world containing 40% protein and 20% oil, both of which are vital in human and animal diet. Soybean contains at least 100% more proteins than any other common crop and yields 5-10 times more protein per unit area than other crops.
With the available technology for processing soybeans at industrial and household level, soybean has become one of the most promising food crops available to improve the diets of millions of people in the world.
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