Ugandan soybean farmers stand a chance to cash in on the increasing global demand for the commodity only if they improve their crop varieties.
Although the country’s soybean export volumes have dropped by 25 per cent from 2,751 tonnes in 2012 to 2,056 tonnes in 2013, there is growing demand for the commodity globally.
World soy bean imports have reached $62.4 billion (Shs162.2 trillion) in 2013, indicating a 15 per cent annual trend since 2009 when it stood at $36.3 billion (Shs94.3 trillion).
China is the biggest importer of this commodity, importing soybeans worth $37.9 billion (Shs98.5 trillion) in 2013 according to global statistics.
Germany and Mexico follow the import queue at $2.09 billion (Shs5.4 trillion) and Mexico $2.06 billion, (Shs5.3 trillion) respectively.
In an interview with Prosper magazine, Uganda Export Promotions Board (UEPB) export officer, Mr Moses Mabala, shares: “China’s performance as the largest and fastest growing import market of soybean in recent years is attributed to the rapid growth of its domestic economy, which has spurred both food consumption and demand for higher protein foods.”
To meet its rising vegetable oil and animal feed demand, China must import most of its soybeans.
In terms of quantities imported, China alone imported 63.3 million tonnes of soybeans in 2013.
Mr Mabala attributes the decline in soy bean exports to poor crop varieties that are rejected on the international market.
“This has had an impact on the export volumes of Uganda at the global market. We encourage them to grow the right varieties,” Mr Mabala advises.
Latest statistics, however, indicate that USA, Turkey and Japan have also joined the biggest importers list. In June 2014, USA imported soybean worth $321.9 million (Shs836.9 billion), 178.1 million and 161.3 million respectively.
“Ugandan farmers should take advantage of such opportunities by increasing on their yields,” Mr Mabala.
Brazil is the world’s number one exporter of soybeans and Uganda is the 48th biggest exporter in the world as per 2013 statistics.
Uganda’s soybean exports stood at $1.06 million (Shs2.7 billion) in 2012, down from $886,000 (Shs2.3 billion) in 2011.
Uganda’s key export destinations were: Vietnam with export market share of 61.7 per cent, followed by Kenya (29 per cent), and Tanzania (5.3 per cent) respectively.
From Africa, Uganda is the seventh biggest exporter of this product to the world after South Africa, Ethiopia, Malawi, Togo, Zambia and Tanzania, respectively.
Soybean production steadily increased from an estimated 144,000 hectares in 2004 to 151,000 hectares in 2009 according to a report authored by SNV.
Production volumes equally improved from 158,000 metric tonnes to 181,000 metric tonnes over the same period.
This production trend was attributed to improved soybean research funding, established processing plants in northern Uganda and eastern Uganda.
Vietnam 61.7 %
Kenya 29 %