New soya bean varieties boost farmers and country’s income

Four high yielding soya bean varieties that are resistant to leaf rust disease, one of the most lethal diseases responsible for depressed yields, are promising better days for Ugandan farmers at a time when the disease has threatened to put brakes on production.

The introduction of the new breeds is an initiative from Makerere University’s school of Agricultural Sciences through its’ Soya bean breeding program. The outbreak of soya bean leaf rust disease was devastating soya bean crop throughout the country and threatened to bring to a halt the production of the rare bean. To mitigate against the challenge and reduce its’ spread in the country, the School of Agricultural Sciences through its Soya bean breeding program, bred, developed and released four improved soya bean varieties.

According to the lead researcher behind the new varieties Dr. Phinehas Tukamuhabwa, from Department of Agricultural Production, the four new varieties are already in supply to farmers after their successful trials. The new varieties are not only resistant to the leaf rust disease but also high yielding. “Developing breeds that are resistant to the dreaded disease was our main goal but we also considered some other benefits commercially to farmers. Therefore the breeds are also fast maturing within 90-100 days making them more ideal for commercial production,” noted Dr. Tukamuhabwa.

The new varieties are Maksoy 1N, Maksoy 2N, Maksoy 3N and Namsoy 4M. The soya bean breeding work has been supported by the Vegetable oil development project of the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries, and the Alliance for the Green Revolution in African (AGRA).

According to Dr. Tukamuhabwa, currently, all the soybean varieties grown in Uganda are Mak soy lines and have been recommended in Nigeria and other countries in Africa by AGRA. These varieties grow well wherever maize is grown, and don’t demand any extra attention compared to the old varieties. The crop can be grown in both the first and second seasons of the year.

Information from the Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB) indicates that Uganda’s soya bean is mostly exported to Kenya, Sudan and Singapore. In 2013, Uganda exported 1,597 tonnes of soya bean worth $875,000 (Ushs2.1 billion), indicating an increase in value and volume. The previous year, the country exported a total of 855 tonnes of soya worth $293,640 (Ushs734 million).