Deputy Director General for Partnership and Capacity Development, Dr Kenton Dashiell said expanding the consumption of soybeans which he tagged “golden beans” would have a positive impact on the nutrition of women and children in Africa, adding, “To tackle malnutrition, we need to promote the use and consumption of soybean.”
He said in Africa, malnutrition, particularly protein deficiency is widespread and animal protein is, often times, too expensive for most populations. Many legumes provide some protein, but soybean is the only available crop that provides an inexpensive and high-quality source of protein comparable to meat, poultry, and eggs, adding that Africa needs to take advantage of the crop to drive sustainable development and agricultural transformation.
Dr Marilyn Nash, Program Coordinator, National Soybeans Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois, described soybean as a ‘’miracle bean’’ because of its high nutritional value, adding that Nigeria has the potential of becoming a global leader in the cultivation and processing of soybeans.
Dr Gbassey Tarawali, Head of IITA Abuja station urged food manufacturers to harness the potential of the crop, saying, “Africans only know about production of soybean and we do not understand that it is an excellent source of micronutrients,” he said.
Tarawali added that blending soybean with maize, millet, and sorghum is good for consumption as they can help increase the protein quality of the food consumed.
He said in Africa, dry soybeans are used to produce milk substitutes and flour. The bean curd is fried and eaten as a snack or breakfast food.
Dr Gloria Elemo, the Director-General, Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO), Oshodi, said that the valuable potential of the crop had not been maximally utilized in the country. She explained that the crop could be made into a number of nutritious, ready-to-consume products as well as intermediate products.
Participants at the workshop called on African governments and in particular, Nigeria, to accord the “miracle crop” priority under the agricultural transformation agenda. They were of the view that the nutritional value of soybean made it an important crop which governments should invest in for the attainment of food security as well as raising the health standard of the people.