An agribusiness training institute, Premier Agribusiness Academy has partnered both private and public players in the soybean value chain to improve the production and quality of the commodity.
Mr Francis Toromade, Director-General of the academy disclosed the partnership in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.
Toromade said that the partnership was sealed during the first Nigerian Soy Excellence Centre (SEC) advisory council meeting which held on Sept. 24.
He said that the strategic partnership was with U.S Soybean Export Council (USSEC), Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Federal Ministry of Health, Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN), Nigerian Soybean Association (NSA), Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) among others.
Toromade explained that the country is challenged with high protein deficiency among children and adults especially under-five-year olds, adolescent girls, and women of reproductive ages resulting in malnutrition, stunted growth, underweight and infections.
He referred to a research conducted in the U.S. of America, which showed that an average Nigerian consumes only 1kg of soybean per year whereas in the U.S., its 55kg per person per year which could explain the difference in life expectancy.
“High-quality protein such as soybeans should be available, affordable and accessible by the all classes of people in the country especially the vulnerable class who are mostly affected by protein deficiency and malnutrition.
“To overcome the challenge of protein deficiency and its accompanying health problems, USSEC and PAA as well as other critical indigenous stakeholders across the soybean value chain have agreed that proper, strategic training is of importance.
“The reason why we have such low rate of soybean production in Nigeria is knowledge gap, if people are properly trained in soybean production, they will know when and how to plant, what, how and when to apply which will result in better yield.
“Our agronomy practice is also a major reason for the deficiency which the Nigerian Soy Excellence Centre (SEC) have developed a curriculum to address.
“Also, farming will become attractive and more profitable especially to the young because they would have been equipped and trained with the needed skills for profitable production of soybean through the guidance of all critical stakeholders and at a subsidised rate,” he said.
He revealed that the SEC would be training over 500 interested persons between 2020 and 2021, while over 250 already showed interest, adding that the obligation of the council was to provide guidance, advise and support in terms of advocacy to government as well as communicate training needs of the industry.
Toromade noted that this was the first time the private and public sector in the soybean value chain were coming together to chart a developmental course.
That will result in achieving increase in the production of soybean in Nigeria, reduced production cost and it’s affordability for human and animal consumption.
According to the statement, Ms Tola Johnson, Executive Director, Agboola Farms (Soybean Farmer/Aggregator) said that the initiative would help to mitigate protein deficiency remarkably.
“The initiative will help to adequately maximise the soybean industry in Nigeria and mitigate protein deficiency through the encouragement of soybean consumption and educating the various strata of the value chain; farmers, processors and consumers.
Johnson expressed delight at the support SEC is receiving from USSOY who according to her have a lot of experience in soybean value chain.
The statement also quoted Prof. Garbs Sharubutu, Executive Secretary of the Agriculture Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), who pointed out that the focus of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture aligned with the vision of SEC.
Sharubutu said that the alignment between private and public sectors, as well as other tiers of government would ensure that there is increased productivity of local crops in Nigeria and alleviation of poverty.
“The drive for SEC at the moment concentrates more on soybean production and to support the move, ARCN will include soybean in the newly approved Federal Government competitive research grant to encourage private sector researchers to develop proposals that will improve soybean productivity in the country,” he said.
The statement added that the advisory council included the Director General, Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Dr Onallo Ankpa; Registrar/CEO, Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS), Prof Eustace Iyayi; President, Catfish and Allied Fish Association of Nigeria (CAFFAN).
Others are Mr Rotimi Oloye; President, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Dr Bartholomew Brai; President, Nigerian Soybean Association (NSA)and Mr Ayodele Uwala Director General, Agricultural Research Institute of Nigeria (ARCN).
Also included are Prof. Sharubutu Garba; Deputy Director, Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Mr Victor Awoniyi; Executive Director, Agboola Farms (Soybean Farmer/Aggregator), Ms Tola Johnson as advisory council voting members and Assistant Director Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).
Also involved in the partnership are: Mrs Christy Onyegbule; Deputy Director, Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment (FMITI), Mr Kaura Irimiya; Head Nutrition, Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), Dr Chris Isokpunwu; Director-General PAA/SEC, Mr Toromade Francis; Consultant, USSEC, Dr Micheal David and Senior Director, Mr Ed Beaman as advisory council non-voting member. (NAN)