Soya beans farmers in Kenya can now harvest up to 1,600kg per hectare to bridge the demand gap with the SC Saga variety, which is also resistant to rust - a disease that reduce the country production by a third annually. In addtion, the SC saga variety has high oil content and pod clearance, larger seeds than ordinary types and is good for intercropping.
The variety, which was sourced from a Zimbabwe seed company by the International Crops Research Institute for Semi- Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), can be grown in any ecological region in the country though it tends to grow better in hot and humid climate.
This explains why farmers around the Lake region get more yields compared to those in the Rift Valley. Although Saga variety takes three months to mature - almost a month longer than other seasonal varieties likes Namsoy 4M, Nyala, Black Hawk and Gazelle - its high productivity and seed quality is worth waiting for.
Saga has high oil content hence is mostly preferred by commercial oil companies. In Kenya, their ids production deficiency of this type of soya, forcing Bidco Company to import from global biggest producers likes Argentina.
According a Vihiga based Agronomist Dick Morgan Ongai, Saga is good for intercropping since it has more and bigger nodules, hence best in nitrogen fixation. He added that with Saga, a farmer is assured of at least 75 per cent harvest if attacked by rust compared to earlier varieties which highly vulnerable to the disease which continues to spell doom for soya beans farmers across the globe.
ICRISAT estimates soya beans production to be 2000-5000 metric tonnes per year against domestic demand of 12,000 metric tonnes. In order to cut on importation costs, companies like Promidisor and Bidco are buying from local farmers at good rate of between Sh90-120 per kilo. Farmers are however supposed to be in a network to consolidate huge bulks since those companies only buy in tonnes.