Soybeans farmers in Benue State are hopeful of a bumper harvest despite the high cost of inputs they needed for their soybean fields.
The farmers, who spoke to our correspondent in Makurdi, said they were expecting good yield as their crops were doing well.
Our correspondent reports that soybean is among the major food crops grown in the state for income generation and sustainability by both peasant and big-time farmers.
Titus Atondo, who cultivated seven hectares of soybeans in Gboko area of the state, said the challenge this year was the high cost of fertiliser.
“The high cost of fertiliser this year is worrisome. I bought SSP at the cost of N15,000 instead of N5,000 that it was sold last year,” he said.
Atondo added that he had so far spent N375,000 on the farm and expects to reap at least, 100 bags of 100kg at harvest which will fetch him about N2 million.
According to him, lack of sufficient rainfall between June and July this year could have affected the growth of the crop but for the current consistent rainfall that has helped the farm to do just well.
Similarly, a seed systems specialist, Teryima Iorlalem, who has a soybean seed production farm at the Federal University of Agriculture (FUAM) decried the huge cost of fertiliser and other inputs.
“My challenges are basically the cost and availability of inputs. For example, the required fertiliser brand for soybean production is SSP. But this year, nobody saw a bag of it,” he added.
Iorlalem explained that one hectare of the farm cost him an SSP fertilizer of N120,000 and that the quantity required for the large expanse of farm ran into a huge amount of money.
He said he secured seeds from reliable sources such as FUAM, IITA, ADPS and other reputable seed companies.
He expects harvest by November/December this year with a yield of between 15 and 20 bags per hectare of 100kg, emphasising that the farm is basically for producing foundation and certified seed for next season.
For Benue farmers, the importance of soybean in generating household income cannot be overlooked due to its low agricultural input need, until the huge cost this year.
Moreover, soybean’s nutritive and economic importance, as well as diverse domestic uses, has made it a dependable crop for farmers and consumers alike in the state.
Experts like Iorlalem think soybean has gained ground in Benue because consumers use it for a variety of dishes – soymilk, soy-cheese, cake, infant weaning food – and an excellent heart-friendly vegetable oil source.
Besides, the demand as an industrial input, the crop improves soil fertility and controls the parasitic weed, Striga hermonthica even as the derivatives are used for livestock feed, especially for poultry among others.
Susghter Kingsley, who farms soybean for consumption in Makurdi, Benue State capital, said the benefits of the edible crop cannot be quantified.