Accra, GHANA- On October 22, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Soybean Innovation Lab, in collaboration with the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), will host the 5th Annual Soybean Kick-off Event in Nyankpala, Ghana. This annual event brings together researchers, development experts, private-sector partners including soybean seed companies, processors, aggregators, and input dealers that share the common goal of advancing the production and utilization of soybean in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Dr. Peter Goldsmith, Soybean Innovation Lab Director commented, “This is an exciting event for our team and the community. Since our humble beginning in 2013, we’ve developed a robust network of soybean practitioners, including researchers, private sector partners, and soybean development experts capable of scaling SIL innovations that directly address the critical challenges to improving the soybean value chain in Africa. Being able to all come together in Ghana where our program began to showcase these innovations first-hand is so important.” The Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL) will be showcasing the following three innovations at this year’s event:
Pan-African Soybean Variety Trials
SIL’s Pan-African Soybean Variety Trials (PATs) have grown to 14 countries across 72 locations with 40 public- and private-sector partners. Testing over 130 lines sourced from a global network of seed suppliers, the PATs have brought 15 new soybean varieties to market in Ghana, Mali, Kenya, Cameroon, and Malawi. The kick-off will feature a tour stop at one of four PAT locations in Ghana where 40 soybean varieties from five countries and five public and private-sector partners are being tested in conjunction with local Ghanaian varieties.
Soybean Management with Appropriate Research & Technology (SMART) Farms are knowledge and technology hubs that provide soybean development practitioners with evidence-based technical guidance on soybean production. The first SMART Farm hub in Ghana has conducted and replicated annual soybean trials across 3 locations since 2014. The SMART Farms platform also allows users to test new products such as inoculants and herbicides. SMART Farm research shows soybean yields can increase up to 2.5 times by using appropriate agronomic practices and inputs.
George Awuni, manager of the SIL SMART Farm in Nyankpala remarked “While pursuing my studies and working with the agriculture ministry in Ghana, it occurred to me that poverty reduction and the transformation of livelihoods in developing countries can only be achieved by a concerted effort of all stakeholders in the agricultural sector, both national and international,” Awuni said. “Through this project, I have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of my countrymen.”
SIL is creating a local, skilled workforce for the fabrication of low-cost, locally-produced, multi-crop threshers to address the challenges of availability and affordability that prevent many smallholder farmers from scaling up their agricultural production. Manual threshing, disproportionately carried out by women, is labor intensive and time consuming. SIL’s multi-crop thresher is 80% faster, less labour intensive, and reduces postharvest losses by 35%. Starting with just 12 fabricators from Ghana in 2016, SIL has now trained 142 fabricators across seven countries to build, service and maintain threshers that can handle cowpea, maize, soybean, millet, sorghum, and rice.
Ghanaian entrepreneur and designer of the SIL Multi-Crop Thresher, Jeffrey Appiagyei was asked what he hopes to accomplish through his company SAYeTECH and their work with the Soybean Innovation Lab. “I want to change things at the national level,” Appiagyei said. “I want young people to see the potential of the huge African market and the vast space available for locally produced, high-quality agricultural equipment. To accomplish sweeping change in the technological ability of a community or country to support its entire agricultural value chain, local innovation and machinery fabrication is essential”
About Soybean Innovation Lab
The Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL) is part of USAID’s Feed the Future Initiative that seeks to improve food security and nutrition around the world. SIL is a team of technical soybean experts that provide evidence-based innovations, tools, and technologies across the value chain to enable sustainable livelihoods through profitable soybean production and utilization across Sub-Saharan Africa.
Source: Agrihouse Foundation