WHAT WE DO

SEED OF LIFE  Soybean Cultivation & Production

The Soybean: It’s a little seed with a lot of potential

 

It’s a little seed with a lot of potential

 

Did you know that one ton of soybean seeds can yield up to forty tons of consumable soy? Who would have thought that such a little bean could do so much? The harvest from one ton of soy can provide 10,000 families of six with enough protein for three months.

 

That is why NEI is working with local farmers to develop a soy seed market in Afghanistan. A developed seed market can ensure the access to a reliable domestic source of protein.

 

By 2010, we were able to reach all 34 provinces and over 2,000 farmers. Farmers use harvested soybeans to nourish their families and sell the surplus to soy flour factories.

 

Now, in 2015, soybean consumption is becoming popular with development of widespread training and teaching.

 

Highest quality seeds

NEI is committed to providing our farmers with the highest quality of non-GMO seeds. This requires rigorous scientific research and development of soybean and seed multiplication.

 

Soybean Cultivation with Afghan Farmers

The first commercial soybean production in Afghanistan began in 2006 when we imported 40 metric tons of two soybean varieties from Stine Seed Company. This company is based in the United States. Seed distribution began with 2,000 farmers in 9 provinces. The farmers received training on soybean cultivation and home use of harvested soybeans.  By 2010, NEI was able to reach 6,000 new farmers in all 34 provinces in cooperation with 600 MAIL extension agronomists who were first trained by NEI’s Technical Advisor, the late Professor Oral Myers from the Southern Illinois University located in the  United States.

 

Since then, the security situation has worsened and our current efforts are limited to 22 provinces, please see the map below.  To date, we have trained 70,000 farmers including female farmers and school teachers. After our agriculture training, our farmers also receive soybean seeds, fertilizers, and nitrogen-fixing bacteria inoculants. Farmers typically keep half of their harvest for home consumption. This is a practical and effective solution to combat chronic malnutrition. Our farmers sell the remaining harvest to NEI or to one of the seven soy processing factories built by NEI with local partners.

 

In 2014, NEI could not buy enough soybeans from farmers because the farmers wanted the keep their harvest for home consumption and plant more the following year. This is a happy dilemma for NEI. To address our need for more soybean supply, we will increase the number of large farmers growing soybean.

Soybean New Variety Trials with Agriculture Research Institute of Afghanistan (ARIA) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation & Livestock (MAIL)

 

Afghanistan soybean production started in 2006 with two U.S. varieties (Stine 3300 and 3870) which were approved by the National Seed Commission. These seeds were approved of following successful adaptation trials of six US soybean varieties tested by both MAIL and NEI in 2004 and 2005.

 

In order to produce high yield soybeans in all the seven ecological zones of Afghanistan, new and improved seed varieties for each region should be developed. Therefore, since 2008, NEI and ARIA have tested new, high performance varieties from the United States and the Republic of Korea.

 

The first trial was of 9 varieties tested at nine agriculture research stations in 7 ecological zones over a period of 3 year. Consequently, 3 new varieties were identified as having the capacity to surpass international average yield standards.

 

The following seeds were approved by the government in 2012:  Hwangkeum of Korea, Stine 3300-2 and Gateway 9876 both of the U.S.  NEI is now distributing these seeds to farmers. New trials are ongoing.  For example, twenty-five varieties from the US and Republic of Korea are being tested in 2015.

 

 

Soybean Seed Production by Local Seed Growers

Seed supply to Afghan soy farmers has been self-sustainable since 2011, therefore seed import from the U.S. is no longer needed. Seven seed companies from each agriculture zone are partnering with NEI to produce certified soybean seeds, thus a local supply has been developed for our farmers.

 

 

Soybean Science and Technology Workshops

As more farmers are producing soybeans, it is imperative they receive technical support to maximize production. In order to increase the technical capacity of soybean science and technology among MAIL research and extension agronomists and seed growers, NEI started hosting a 2 day workshop each year called Soybean Science and Technology Workshops.

 

Under the guidance of Mr. David Quarles, NEI technical advisor on soybean production, all the participants listen to a lecture on the latest breakthrough on soybean science and technology.  We hope this capacity building will further develop the soy industry in Afghanistan.

 

 

Future Goal

 

It is our mission and vision to produce 300,000 metric tons of soybeans for domestic consumption. This quantity translates to 100,000 metric tons of absorbable proteins which will be sufficient to defeat protein-energy malnutrion (PEM) among women and children, particularly in rural areas of Afghanistan.

 

We sincerely hope that this quantity will help prevent childhood stunting and decrease mortality rates of women, children, and infants suffering from malnutrition.