Whereas the demand for soy has skyrocketed in Kenya, the production levels have remained virtually unchanged. By 2015 Kenya was importing much more soy than it produces – when it should be perfectly capable of increasing its own production manifold. In Kirinyaga County farmers are being encouraged to diversify and start growing soy through the CARE project ’Youth Access Markets’ (YAM) which is funded by BESTSELLER FOUNDATION.
Tomatoes versus soybeans
Most farmers have been growing a handful of different crops before – of which tomatoes are the most popular. However, tomatoes have some significant disadvantages, says Mwende Kusewa, Food and Nutrition Security and Resilience Manager at CARE Kenya:
“Tomatoes are prone to pests and require large amounts of pesticides, tomatoes are labour intensive and they are perishable which means that everybody will be selling at the same time during the harvest season forcing the price down.
Soya on the other hand is a nitrogen fixing crop and therefore it generally improves the health of the soil, secondly it is not as labour intensive as the tomato, it does not need the same levels of pesticide and it is not a perishable crop. That means that once you harvest it if the prices are not good at that particular time you can stop and store your produce until the market prices have improved and then sell and get higher benefits.”