TANZANIA is poised to be among the largest producers and exporters of soybeans in the world but absence of government push to motivate its farming denies the nation of an important opportunity.
Stakeholders have argued that the country has the potential of producing more than 100 million metric tonnes of soybeans a year which can earn more than 30 billion US dollars a year and create jobs and expand tax base.
Soybeans, according to Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF), are on higher demand in a number of countries, especially China.
TPSF Chairperson Ms Angelina Ngalula said that with 44 million hectares of arable land, there is a possibility for the country to join the club of larger global producers and exporters of the crop.
“It is time to turn to soybeans farming not only for local consumption but also for export to China plus other markets,” Ms Ngalula advised.
The TPSF leader said what is needed is an affirmative action and efforts to motivate farmers, especially those who engage in agribusiness to carry out both rain fed and irrigation farming. According to TPSF, Tanzanian farmers and traders are likely to benefit much from soybeans exports due to the recently inked deal between Dar es Salaam and Beijing.
Tanzania and China recently signed an agreement giving an opportunity for farmers and traders to export 400,000 tonnes to Beijing while the country’s current production stands at 14,000 tonnes only. To bridge the gap, TPSF advised the government to launch support schemes such as tax incentives and soft loans so that more Tanzanians, especially youth can venture into soybeans farming business.
From 2015 to 2019, the United States was the leading global producer of soybeans with a production volume of 120.52 million metric tonnes in 2019. However, Brazil, last May, overtook the US as the leading crop producing country with a production volume of some 126 million metric tons in 2020/21 season.
TPSF Board Member Mr Silvestry Koka said the private sector in the country is ready to engage its stakeholders in strategic farming of the crop, including looking for markets beyond borders. However, he said for the efforts to bear fruits it is important for the government to step in to empower them.
“TRA must strengthen its research and development department to ensure that petty traders and farmers are supported to graduate and become tax payers,” Mr Koka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Kibaha constituency, said. Mr Koka also advised that special emphasis should be made in ensuring that agricultural oriented businesses are registered and formalized for them to effectively take part in local, regional and international markets.