Norway Funds a Soybean Project in Ghana


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The Soybean is a species of legume native to East Asia, widely grown for its edible bean, which has numerous uses. Soybeans were an essential crop in East Asia long before written records began. One of the many uses of Soybeans is a fat-free soya bean meal, a significant and cheap source of protein for animal feeds and many packaged meals. Also, Soybean products, such as textured vegetable protein, are ingredients in many meat and dairy substitutes.

The United States, Brazil, and Argentina are the world’s largest Soybean producers, representing more than 80% of global Soybean production. The growth in soy demand in the last decade is mainly due to the prioritization of biodiesel production, specifically in the United States and the EU, and rapid economic growth in Asia, where rising incomes are resulting in expanded consumption of animal protein (fed by Soybean meal) and vegetable oils.

Soybeans arrived in Africa via Egypt in 1857 and found their way to Ghana around 1910. Farmers in the Northern sector of the country, who mainly grow soy as a cash crop, generate about 70 percent of Ghana’s soya bean produce.

In Ghana, many varieties, as well as different grades of Soybean, can be found. One way these varieties are denoted is by the color of the beans – soya beans are usually yellow but, in some instances, could be green or brown instead. While African markets remain very small in the global soy trade, an exciting opportunity exists for Africa to expand production to meet its growing regional demand. Rising incomes in African urban markets are driving increased consumption of animal protein and higher-quality vegetable oils, where Brazil’s Soybean industry started not long ago.

Global Soybean prices have generally been strong for the past few seasons, although there has been some variation due to the current tight worldwide demand and supply situation. There is a growing unmet market demand and unused processing-export capacity of Soybeans in the country, Mr. Mohammed Tufero, the Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture of Ghana, has disclosed. Ghana’s annual Soybean production potential is 700,000 metric tons covering an area of about 250,000 hectares, while the area under cultivation is about 125,000 hectares.

The country’s combined processing and export gap of Soybeans is 228,000 metric tons, while imports, mainly processed soya meal, amounted to about 200,000 metric tons of grain equivalent, leading to unmet market demand. The Deputy Food and Agriculture Minister, addressing a stakeholder meeting on the theme: “Soybean – A strategic crop for poverty reduction and enhanced food security in Northern Ghana,” said the main bottleneck was the lack of capacity for medium and smallholder farmers to increase their annual Soybean production with an additional 200,000 metric tons. 

He said the supply gap provided an opportunity for job creation, poverty reduction, and food security in the country, especially in the northern savannas, which produced about 90 percent of the country’s Soybean and were among the deprived regions of Ghana. 

However, the Deputy Minister stated that the domestic production was on a subsistence basis under rainfed conditions, which were constrained by erratic rainfall because of climate change, lower crop yields, high cost of production, and low elasticity of technical efficiency, which often resulted in low import-substitution. 

Soybean Project in Ghana

The meeting was part of strategies under the Sustainable Soybean Production in Northern Ghana (SSPiNG Project) being implemented in 16 districts in the five Northern Regions of Ghana by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), YARA Ghana, Wageningen University, the Netherlands and Felleskjopet Rogaland Agder, Norway, with support from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ghana. SSPiNG is a four-year project funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).


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