Soybean is ranked the most important oil crop in the world, providing the cheapest source of protein for both human food and livestock feeds. The protein content of soybean is the highest among legume crops, averaging 40% on a dry matter basis. Soybean protein is balanced with all the essential amino acids, while the seed also contains significant amounts of minerals (notably Fe, Zn, Ca, Mg). Due to its nutritional superiority, soybean flour is the only substitute for animal and fish protein. For this reason, soybean-based foods are highly recommended for children under 5 years, expectant mothers and HIV/AIDS patients.

The Principal, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga (2nd R) checking out some of the products made from soybean at MAKCSID.

Soybean oil is 85% unsaturated, comprising linoleic acid (omega-3 fatty acid) and oleic acid which are known to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering serum cholesterol by about 33%. Besides, soybean also contains isoflavones which increase artery and heart health. Impact studies have also shown that regular soy food consumption can reduce the risk of rectal cancer by 80%, mammary tumor by 40% and breast cancer by 50%. Production of soybean stands at 264 million MT worldwide, with United States of America (USA), Brazil and Argentina being the largest producers. In Africa, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda are the largest producers, with annual volumes estimated at 1.5 million metric tonnes (FAO, 2017).

Prof. Phinehas Tukamuhabwa (standing) briefing the Principal about MAKCSID at MUARIK.

In Uganda, soybean is number one income earner crop in Northern and Eastern Uganda. Farmers in the region earn at least UGX1,200,000 per hectare per season.

About the Mak Centre for Soybean Improvement and Development (MAKCSID)

Soybean research and development efforts in Uganda is led by Makerere University Centre for Soybean Improvement and Development (MAKCSID) in partnership with farmers, research institutes and technology verification centres in the major soybean growing areas. The major breeding objectives are to; i) Develop and release superior soybean varieties; ii) Improve awareness for increased adoption of released soybean varieties by farmers; iii) Enhance availability and access of improved varieties; and iv) Value addition for enhanced nutrition (soy flour, soybean milk, Yoghurt) using appropriate technologies.

The Principal, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga (R) touring the soybean gene bank at MUARIK.

Since its establishment, the MAKCSID has registered significant achievements. The Centre has produced six high yielding varieties namely; Maksoy IN, Maksoy 2N, Maksoy 3N, Maksoy 4N; Maksoy 5N, Maksoy 6N. Recent impact studies by researchers from the Centre led by Prof. Phinehas Tukamuhabwa showed that the new varieties developed by MAKCSID were the most planted and accounted for 93% of the soybean varieties grown by Ugandan farmers. Currently, Maksoy 1N is the most widely adopted variety by farmers, while Maksoy 3N has the largest quantities of foundation seed disseminated by the centre. The centre has also established a state-of-the-art seed storage facility for early generation seed (Breeders and Foundation seed) and soybean germplasm used for breeding other varieties. Other facilities are soybean processing equipment (soycow) and Soybean roaster that are used to add value to soybeans. The growth of the soybean sub-sector in Uganda is mainly attributed to the availability of a wide range of improved varieties, government investment in soybean research, and increased private sector investment along the soybean value chain.

The Soybean gene bank at MUARIK.

CAES Principal’s visit to MAKCSID: Leveraging on the achievements of the Centre

On 6th July 2022, the Principal, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga visited MAKCSID at the Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK) to chart ways of improving productivity of the Centre. In a meeting with the MAKCSID team, the Principal applauded their contribution to improving the nutritional and commercial value of the crop. Brainstorming on ways of improving productivity at the Centre, the Principal noted that Agribusiness was featuring a lot in the National Development Plan (NDP III) as one of the activities expected to transform the country.

“The government is looking at ways of generating funds from our initiatives. The initiatives should therefore be turned in business enterprises. We need to maximise the available land at Kibaale and Nakasongola to increase production. You also need to link up with other Units within the College and University when it comes to value addition,” she noted.

Dr. Tonny Obua (R) explains to the Principal how the Soybean roaster operates.

The Principal further implored the team to create a private outlet for foundation soybean seed at MUARIK as a measure of generating resources from the initiative. She urged researchers to include students on all projects noting that the latter are the entry points to the communities.

In his presentation, the Principal Investigator for the Soybean Breeding and Seed Systems at MakCAES, Prof. Tukamuhabwa said the MAKCSID was targeting to establish a Soybean Centre of Excellence at MUARIK, develop climate smart soybean varieties, enhance Soybean processing and utilisation at village level, and incubation of small soybean based businesses.

The Principal checking out the soybean milking machine.

CAES is also working with partners to develop the soybean value chain in Uganda. The partners involved in the initiative include Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the Government of Russia.

The Principal also toured the irrigation pump, poultry and rabbit initiatives at MUARIK.

Click the link below to view the Soybean Research Highlights 2002-2018 Report


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