Soya bean farming in Kenya is has established strong market standards among other cereals. The beans have higher prices per kg due to high levels of nutrients. Soya beans farming is preferred in Kenya since it can be used to produce oil.

soya bean farming in kenya

The farming practice is mainly carried out in Western areas, Rift valley regions, Nyanza regions. However, the beans are partially grown in the central and the Eastern regions. Not all the parts in Kenya can successfully produce Soya beans.

History of Soya bean Farming in Kenya

Soya beans are not native to Kenya but were introduced to the country in the early 1900s as part of agricultural research and development efforts. The crop was initially cultivated for use as animal feed due to its high protein content. Over time, farmers and agricultural researchers recognized the nutritional benefits of soya beans for human consumption and its potential as a cash crop.

The formal introduction and promotion of soya bean farming in Kenya can be traced back to the 1970s and 1980s. During this period, the Kenyan government, along with various development organizations, began promoting soya bean production as a means to address food security, malnutrition, and poverty. Efforts were made to distribute improved soya bean varieties, provide training to farmers on modern farming practices, and establish market linkages for the produce.

Soya bean crop is used as an affordable source of protein for livestock feeds. It is also used in making cooking oil, margarine, soya chunks, soap, milk, to name a few. It is one of the richest crops in terms of crude protein (ranging between 35-45 %) and contains 20 % oil. Improving soya bean production will surely increase its contribution to the Agriculture GDP.

We can also imagine the amount of foreign exchange saving, the country will attain if the annual national requirement is produced locally.

At farm level, it is one of the short season crops with a lucrative return on investment. The general cost structure per hectare ranges from Ksh. 77,700 to Ksh. 99,900, at full absorption (all direct costs incorporated), i.e. at high management level. At this level a farmer will be targeting to get at least 3.5 tonnes/ha and even up to 6 tonnes/ha, with Seed Co varieties.

The minimum income a farmer can get using the ruling prices of Ksh. 222,000 per tonne is about Ksh. 222,000 after a period of four and half months or less (depending on altitude and variety). It can be more with high productivity levels. It means a farmer can realise a gross return of at least Ksh.122, 100/ha, after 4-5 months. The break-even yield level for soyabean is about 1.7 tonnes/ha at the prevailing prices. A farmer can easily rake up to Ksh. 333 per shilling invested.

A soya bean crop can be used for value addition on the farm where own stock feed can be formulated and mixed. Generally, in livestock production systems, feeds constitute about 70% of the total cost structure. According to several studies, feed costs can be reduced by about 25% if a farmer can produce the feeds on the farm. This will ultimately enhance profitability levels of the livestock ventures.  Other on-farm value addition options include soap, cooking oil, milk and soya chunks/mince production.

In addition to these top line stories, the soyabean crop is also compatible with long and short rotations. Example of a long rotation is maize (summer)-soyabean (summer) which is common in many non-irrigated farming systems. Soya (summer)-wheat (winter) is an example of a short rotation (also known as double cropping system) in irrigated farming systems. Both rotation setups are beneficial to the farmer.

Generally, the yield of a cereal crop, which follows soya in a rotation, is usually enhanced because of the residual nitrogen, since soyabean is a legume, which fixes Nitrogen. A well-managed soyabean crop can leave a residual Nitrogen level of up to 90kg/ha, which benefits the next crop in a rotation.

In rotations, the yield of maize/wheat following soyabeans is generally greater than following maize at both low and high levels of nitrogen application.

Other benefits of soya bean production

  • The benefits of growing soya bean prior to maize include better moisture conservation due to the early maturity of soya bean and the canopy cover. In Kenya, soya bean varieties are generally early to medium maturing (115 to 135 days from planting to physiological maturity).
  • The soya bean crop can be used in the control of certain weeds, pests and diseases, especially in rotation systems with cereal crops.
  • A soya bean crop can help the spread of peak work periods and early cash return in April or May and enhance farm cash flows. It should be noted that rotations as a cultural practice are a first port in Integrated Management of weeds, pests and diseases in most cropping systems.
  • Soya bean rotate particularly well with winter-irrigated wheat, as it takes less time in the fields even when planted in November or early December.

Considerations for soya bean production

Choosing the right variety

We always recommend for farmers to plant fresh certified seed every year. Certified seed is of high quality, with good and tested germination qualities. Certified seed is also screened of seed borne diseases-which can significantly reduce yield levels. Selecting a high yielding certified, fresh seed variety is the first and critical stage in attaining high productivity levels in soya bean production, just like any other cropping system. In frank and short terms, it is best to start with fresh certified seed every season.

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There are two types of soya bean varieties: determinate and indeterminate.

This refers to the way the plant grows i.e. the growth habit. Determinate cultivars grow vegetatively for about six weeks and then begin to flower, having put on 10 to 12 leaves.

Once flowering begins, no further new leaves are produced on the main stem. Indeterminate cultivars, on the other hand, grow vegetatively for about six weeks, then begin flowering when the main stem has about 10 leaves, but at the same time as flowering, the stem continues to grow for another three weeks or so, producing another five to seven leaves. Thus, the vegetative and reproductive growth periods overlap in indeterminate cultivars but not in determinate cultivars. Indeterminate cultivars also tend to grow taller than determinate cultivars.

For these reasons, determinate cultivars are better suited to warm fast growing environments and sometimes irrigation maybe recommended.

When choosing a variety to grow in your particular farming region the following considerations are critical:

  • The variety must fit in a growing season of 4 to 5 months.
  • The variety should give the highest yield for a farmer’s particular region.
  • The variety must be resistant to lodging i.e. must have good standability at optimum population densities.
  • The variety should have a longer period between physiological maturity (time when no more dry matter is added to seed) and pod shattering. This period is called shattering free period.
  • High pod clearance to reduce losses when harvesting with a combine harvester or hand.
  • A good variety must have a rapid stem dehydration. The stem must dry down concurrently with the pods.
  • Resistance to diseases, especially red leaf blotch (Pyrenochaeta glycines) frogeye (Cercospora sojina), soyabean rust (Phakospora pachyrhizi).

Soil condition and conditioning

Soya beans are a legume plant suited to well drained soils with a relatively high clay content of more than 20%. The crop does not perform very well on weak/light sands but responds to manure.

The crop is also sensitive to soil acidity because the bacteria which fixes nitrogen only thrives in a certain optimum pH range and are extremely sensitive to low pH (acidic soils). The optimum pH range is between 5.5 to 7 (CaCl2 scale). Since soyabean is sensitive to soil acidity, we recommend farmers to sample their soils for analysis of the soil pH (acidity or basicity) in winter. If necessary, lime should be applied at the prescribed/recommended rates to bring the soil to an optimum pH level. In fact, we apply lime to sweeten acidic soils and the best time to it is NOW (after harvesting).

Germination and emergence is enhanced by preparing the soil to a fine tilth and also by structuring poorly structured soils, normally by applying gypsum during land preparation in winter. Gypsum improves soils physical structure i.e. removes hard setting clodiness, removes surface crusting/capping and poor workability as well as supplementing the soil with Calcium and Sulphur. However, gypsum application is determined by soil analysis. Again this is the most ideal time to do soil sampling and analysis i.e. after harvesting the summer crop.

How To Plant Soya Beans

Soya beans farming in Kenya can do well in warm climatic conditions with minimal rainfall. Nevertheless, the bean variety has been acknowledged to survive under extreme temperatures. The survival character has made it reliable and the most preferred by Kenya cereals.

An acre of land can utilize 20kg of soya beans seeds with proper spacing between the seeds and the rows. Planting the soya beans in rows can provide adequate space for movement by the farmer while attending to the beans.

At the same time, proper spacing facilitates maximum use of bi-products for growth and enough room for increased yield per season.

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to plant soybeans in Kenya:

Step 1: Choose the Right Variety Select a soybean variety that is well-suited to the climate and growing conditions in your region of Kenya. There are various soybean varieties available, so consult with local agricultural experts or extension officers to determine the best variety for your specific area.

Step 2: Prepare the Land Prepare the land by clearing it of weeds, rocks, and other debris. Soybeans prefer well-drained soils with a pH level of around 6.0 to 6.8. If necessary, conduct a soil test to determine the soil’s nutrient levels and make appropriate adjustments.

Step 3: Timing Choose the appropriate time for planting soybeans. The best time to plant in Kenya is typically during the rainy season, as soybeans require adequate water for germination and early growth. The exact timing will vary depending on your specific location, but it’s generally recommended to plant in the early rainy season.

Step 4: Seed Selection and Treatment Select high-quality soybean seeds from a reputable supplier. To enhance germination rates and protect against certain diseases, consider treating the seeds with a fungicide or inoculant. Follow the instructions provided by the seed supplier for seed treatment.

Step 5: Planting Plant the treated soybean seeds using a planter or by hand. The recommended planting depth is about 2 to 4 centimeters (1 to 1.5 inches). Space the seeds at appropriate intervals to allow for proper growth and development.

Step 6: Fertilization If your soil test indicates nutrient deficiencies, apply the appropriate fertilizer before or during planting. Soybeans generally require nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, but the amounts may vary depending on soil conditions.

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Step 7: Weed Control Weed control is crucial during the early stages of soybean growth. Regularly remove weeds by hand or use appropriate herbicides, taking care not to damage the soybean plants.

Step 8: Watering Ensure that the soybeans receive sufficient water, especially during the critical growth stages. While soybeans can tolerate drought to some extent, consistent and adequate moisture will improve yield.

Step 9: Pest and Disease Management Monitor your soybean plants regularly for signs of pests and diseases. If you identify any issues, seek advice from agricultural experts or extension officers to determine the best course of action for pest and disease management.

Step 10: Harvesting Soybeans are ready for harvest when the leaves have turned yellow, and the pods have matured. Typically, this occurs around 100 to 130 days after planting, but it can vary based on the variety and growing conditions.

Step 11: Drying and Storage After harvesting, allow the soybean plants to dry in the field. Once the moisture content has reduced to around 13%, you can safely store the beans in clean, dry containers for further processing or sale.

Soya Beans Varieties

Soya beans farming in Kenya has good adaptative climatic conditions. A few varieties have been tested to be productive over the few years. Some of the varieties include;

  • Hill soya
  • Nyala soya
  • Black hawk soya
  • Gazelle soya
  • SB 19 soya

The most preferred type of soya bean variety across the county is SB19, whose seeds are characterized by quick maturity and increased yields.

Harvesting Soya Beans

Most beginner farmers may want to know how many bags of soya beans per acre they can benefit from after reaping? A well-tended soya bean farm of 1 acre can result in a harvest of 9 bags on the minimum and a maximum of 12 bags of 90kg soya beans.

Soya Bean Price Per Kg In Kenya

Soya bean price per kg of cost from Ksh. 80 to Ksh. 130. However, in some seasons, especially during scarcity, the prices can hike to Ksh. 160.

Besides, Soya beans can be sold either as fresh from the field or as dry seeds.

Soya beans are highly charged compared to other bean products. The prices vary depending on the region of production.

Fertilisation

Soya bean grow well on residual fertiliser. A full soil analysis will determine the soil nutrient status and prescribe the rates and type of basal dressing to be applied. However, a general recommendation is to apply a pre-planting basal application of 200 to 300 kg per ha of soya blend or cotton fert/compound L.

This basal dressing should be incorporated by discing it under into the root zone/secondary tillage depth of 10-15cm. Soyabean also responds well to manure application. Since soyabean is able to obtain its nitrogen requirement through nitrogen fixation, we do not recommend nitrogen in the basal as well as in top dressing.

Sometimes minimum nitrogen applications can be recommended especially after prolonged wet periods. Prolonged wet periods creates an anaerobic environment in the crop root zone and disturbs the functioning of the nitrogen fixing bacteria and usually result in yellowing of the crop. A light top dressing of about 75-100kg/ha after the wet spell is usually recommended in this case depending on soil type.

Soya Bean Processors

Table showing Soya bean processors in Kenya

Soya Bean Processors  ContactPhysical Address
BIDCO oils refineries ltdPhone: +254 737091681
Phone: 067 2821000
Email:[email protected]
Head office, General Kago road, Thika.
Soy AfricPhone: +254-720-123- 407
Phone: +254-738-460-102
Email:[email protected]
Soy Afric, Ruiru
Prosoya Kenya LimitedPhone: 0706 561516Ole Soi Road, Off Lunga Lunga Rd, Nairobi
Kamili PackersPhone: 020 655004312 and 14 Kampala Road, Off Enterprise Rd, Nairobi
TruTrade AfricaPhone: 0725 850906Karuna Cl, Nairobi
Kenya Industrial Research And Development InstitutePhone: 020 2388216South C Nairobi KE
Kapa Oil Refineries LtdPhone: 020 6420000Main Mombasa Road Mombasa Road, Nairobi
Jomo Kenyatta University Of Agriculture And TechnologyPhone: 067 5352224Juja Kwale, Rd, Juja
Sossi soyaPhone: 020 2309185Off Mombasa Road, Beijing Road Suvida Complex, Mlolongo-Athi River, Mlolongo
Invest in AfricaPhone: 0795 058590Bush House, Kabarnet Road, Off Ngong Rd, Nairobi
Kenya Industrial Research And Development InstitutePhone: 020 2388216South C Nairobi KE
TruTrade AfricaPhone: 0725 850906Karuna Cl, Nairobi
Soya bean Processors In Kenya: Credit

FAQs

  1. What is soya bean?

Soya bean is a legume crop that is native to East Asia. It is a valuable source of protein and oil, and it is used in a wide variety of food and industrial products. Soya bean is a relatively high-input crop, but it can be profitable for farmers who have the right conditions.

  1. What are the best conditions for soya bean farming in Kenya?

Soya bean thrives in warm, humid climates with well-drained soil. The ideal temperature range for soya bean growth is 20-25 degrees Celsius. Soya bean requires a minimum of 1000 mm of rainfall per year, but it can tolerate some drought conditions. Soya bean is a nitrogen-fixing crop, so it can help to improve soil fertility.

  1. What are the different varieties of soya bean in Kenya?

There are a number of different varieties of soya bean that are grown in Kenya. Some of the most popular varieties include Dina, Kafue, and K-67. These varieties have different characteristics, such as maturity time, yield, and disease resistance.

  1. When is the best time to plant soya bean in Kenya?
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The best time to plant soya bean in Kenya is during the rainy season, which is from March to May. Soya bean can also be planted during the short rains in October and November. However, planting during the rainy season is usually more successful.

  1. How much land do I need to grow soya bean in Kenya?

The amount of land you need to grow soya bean in Kenya will depend on the size of your operation and your yield goals. For a small-scale operation, you may only need a few acres of land. However, for a commercial operation, you may need several acres.

  1. How much does it cost to start a soya bean farming business in Kenya?

The cost of starting a soya bean farming business in Kenya will vary depending on the size of your operation and the resources you have available. However, you can expect to spend some money on land, seeds, fertilizer, and labor.

  1. How do I prepare the soil for soya bean farming in Kenya?

The first step is to plow the soil to a depth of 10-15 cm. This will help to loosen the soil and remove any weeds or debris. Then, you need to add fertilizer to the soil. The amount of fertilizer you need will depend on the type of soil you have and the variety of soya bean you are growing.

  1. How do I plant soya bean seeds in Kenya?

Soya bean seeds should be planted 3-5 cm deep in the soil. The seeds should be spaced 20-30 cm apart in rows that are 70-80 cm apart.

  1. How do I water soya bean plants in Kenya?

Soya bean plants need regular water, especially during the flowering and pod development stages. The amount of water you need to give your plants will depend on the climate and the soil type.

  1. How do I control pests and diseases in soya bean farming in Kenya?

There are a number of pests and diseases that can affect soya bean plants. Some of the most common pests include aphids, beetles, and caterpillars. Some of the most common diseases include rust, wilt, and mosaic virus. You can control pests and diseases with a combination of cultural practices, biological control, and chemical control.

  1. How do I harvest soya bean in Kenya?

Soya bean plants are ready to harvest when the pods are dry and the beans are fully developed. The beans should be yellow or brown in color. To harvest soya bean, you need to cut the plants at the base and thresh the beans from the pods.

  1. How do I store soya bean in Kenya?

Soya beans should be stored in a cool, dry place. The beans should be kept in a container that is well-ventilated. Soya beans can be stored for up to a year under these conditions.

  1. What are the benefits of soya bean farming in Kenya?

Soya bean is a relatively high-input crop, but it can be profitable for farmers who have the right conditions. Soya bean is a valuable source of protein and oil, and it can be used in a wide variety of food and industrial products. Soya bean is also a nitrogen-fixing crop, which means that it can help to improve soil fertility.

  1. What are the challenges of soya bean farming in Kenya?

There are a number of challenges that farmers face when growing soya bean in Kenya. Some of the most common challenges include pests and diseases, drought, and poor soil fertility. Farmers can overcome these challenges by using good agricultural practices, such as crop rotation, pest control, and fertilizer application.

  1. How can I improve my soya bean yield in Kenya?

There are a number of things you can do to improve your soya bean yield in Kenya. Some of the most effective practices include:

  • Using high-quality seeds
  • Preparing the soil properly
  • Watering your plants regularly
  • Fertilizing your plants at the right time
  • Controlling pests and diseases
  • Harvesting your crop at the right time
  1. Where can I sell my soya bean in Kenya?

There are a number of places where you can sell your soya bean in Kenya. Some of the most common places include:

  • Local markets
  • Exporters
  • Industrial processors
  1. What are the future prospects for soya bean farming in Kenya?

The future prospects for soya bean farming in Kenya are good. The demand for soya bean products is increasing, and the government of Kenya is supporting soya bean production through a number of initiatives. This makes soya bean farming a good investment for farmers in Kenya.

  1. What are the government initiatives to support soya bean farming in Kenya?

The government of Kenya has a number of initiatives to support soya bean farming. These initiatives include:

  • Providing subsidies for soya bean seeds and fertilizer
  • Training farmers on soya bean production and marketing
  • Establishing soya bean processing plants
  • Promoting the export of soya bean products
  1. What are the opportunities for soya bean farming in Kenya?

There are a number of opportunities for soya bean farming in Kenya. These opportunities include:

  • The growing demand for soya bean products
  • The government’s support for soya bean production
  • The availability of land and water resources
  • The potential for export markets
  1. How can I get started with soya bean farming in Kenya?

If you are interested in starting soya bean farming in Kenya, there are a number of things you need to do. These include:

  • Do your research
  • Identify a suitable location
  • Prepare the soil
  • Get high-quality seeds
  • Water and fertilize your plants regularly
  • Control pests and diseases
  • Harvest your crop at the right time
  • Market your crop

By following these steps, you can start soya bean farming in Kenya and be successful.

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