Director-general, Premier Agribusiness Academy and a renowned agricultural expert Toromade Francis, has called for the increase in soybean consumption in the country to tackle the high rate of protein deficiency.
Toromade made this known during the first Nigerian Soy Excellence Centre (SEC) advisory council meeting which was held recently in Lagos.
He explained that the country is challenged with high protein deficiency especially among under-five children, adolescent girls, and women of reproductive age which results in malnutrition and other health hazards such as stunted growth and underweight.
While referring to research conducted in the United States of America, Toromade pointed out that, an average Nigerian consumes only a kg of soybean yearly whereas in the United States, its 55kg per person yearly which according to him could explain the difference in life expectancy.
He further explained that the contribution of soybean to protein intake cannot be overstressed as protein consumption is currently inadequate in Nigeria as a result of low production, high cost of production, and importation.
“Soybeans should be available, affordable, and accessible by the high and low-income classes in the country especially to the vulnerable class who are mostly affected by protein deficiency and malnutrition,” he said.
“The reason why we have such a low rate of soybean production in Nigeria is the knowledge gap.
“If people are sensitised and properly trained in soybean production, they will know when to plant, what, how and this will result to improve productivity,” he explains said.
He says poor agronomy practice is also a major reason for low yield per hectare in soybean production, noting that the Nigerian Soy Excellence Centre (SEC) has developed a curriculum to address the issue.
Toromade noted that SEC through its strategic partnership with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, US SOY, and the Nigerian Soybean Association (NSA) as well as other critical stakeholders across the soybean value chain is set to boost the productivity of the crop in the country.
“With high yield per hectare, farming will become attractive and profitable especially to the young,” he said.
He revealed that the SEC would be training over 500 interested persons between 2020 and 2021 with over 250 already showing interest.
While commenting on the role of the advisory council which includes; Onallo Ankpa, director-general, PAN, Prof. Eustace Iyayi, registrar/CEO, NIAS, and Rotimi Oloye, president, CAFFAN among other members, Toromade said the obligation of the council is providing guidance, advise and support in terms of advocacy as well as training needs of the soybean subsector.
“This is the first time the private and public sector in the soybean value chain are coming together at this level to chart a developmental course that will result in boosting soybean production,” he said.
While commending SEC, Tola Johnson, executive director, Agboola Farms noted the initiative will help to adequately maximize the soybean industry in Nigeria and sensitise Nigerians on the importance of soybean consumption.
She added that educating the various strata of the value chain such as farmers, processors, and consumers, will boost the productivity of the crop.