A few years ago, the future of soybean production didn’t look too promising for 40-year-old Julia Marungu, a soybean farmer in Busia County, Kenya. She attributed this to limited agricultural knowledge and a lack of quality seeds and markets. This, however, was not the end of the road for her- it was only the beginning.
Julia took initiative and pursued a course in Agriculture, which opened her eyes to the negative impacts of the traditional practices the farmers in her region were employing. With the newly-gained knowledge, she decided to start an agro-vet dealership in 2017. Her business would provide an opportunity for her to share information on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) with farmers and promote the use of quality inputs.
In December 2021, the 2SCALE-Equitorial Nuts Processors Ltd Partnership, through the Business Support Service (BSS), Anglican Development Services- Western (ADS-W), facilitated training on soybean production for farmers in Busia County. Julia was not left behind. The farmers were trained on the proper use of farm inputs, crop management, leadership and governance, record-keeping, and community seed multiplication using certified seeds.
Through the partnership, ADS-W created a market for the farmers’ soybean produce by linking them to Equitorial Nuts Processors as an off-taker. 2SCALE also facilitated the provision of certified seeds to the community seed multipliers to increase the availability of quality seeds in the market for soybean farmers. The multipliers, including Julia, received a total of 552 kilograms of seeds and out of this, were able to produce five tonnes of seeds. She adds,
The training on community seed multiplication was eye-opening for us. A big challenge we used to face was a lack of soybean seeds. We used to think that seeds are manufactured in laboratories. But now that we have the knowledge and skill to multiply seeds, we can ensure that soybean farmers have enough seeds to plant in the next season.
The formation of Agribusiness clusters (ABCs) was also implemented and farmers were linked to other stakeholders in proximity, such as agro-input retailers, local branches of financial institutions, local traders or extension officers.
For Julia, this meant that she would have more customers because of the increase in farmers adopting soybean production. As an ABC coach, she is able to reach more farmers, share knowledge and provide quality inputs. Through 2SCALE support, she has also been linked to input and soybean seed suppliers. In addition to inputs, she now sells seeds, and fertilizer, and trains farmers on conservation agriculture.
Soybean farming wasn’t very popular before, because the market was not reliable. Since 2SCALE and ADS-W created a ready market, I started promoting soybean production among farmers. When they use inputs properly, they always tell me that germination is a hundred per cent and that the yield is better than they expect. Now, I get over 50 customers buying soybean seeds in a day! They also buy inputs from my shop and refer me to other farmers. I’m hoping to raise the number to 120 for next year’s season.