NIGERIA – The growing use of soybeans for human consumption and animal feed is creating a shortfall in the supply of the commodity in Nigeria.
This is made even worse by the Boko Haram insurgency which has caused soybeans farmers in the North-East part of the country to flee their farms.
Nigeria currently produces only 550,000 tonnes (25 percent) of its annual soybeans requirement, leaving a supply gap of 1.65 million tonnes (75percent).
The domestic soybean supply gap thus created would require about N225 billion to bridge.
Sotonye Anga, coordinator, Community of Agricultural Stakeholders of Nigeria (CASON), recently, in Lagos, revealed that, “demand for soya beans in Nigeria is about N300 billion.” Citing a Novus Agro Commodity report, Anga said that a ton of soya bean currently goes for between N180, 000 and N95, 000, depending on the location of the market.
“But in Lagos state, the product is sold for N135,000 per ton and this stands as the average price for the six geopolitical zones, putting the annual demand for soybeans at about 2.2 million metric tons.”
A Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Report on Grains’ Demand and Commodity Prices of 2013, puts industrial demand for soybean at about a total of 2,270,700 tons.
Anga confirms the report of the Global Alliance on Improved Nutrition (GAIN), which computed that Nigeria’s current annual production of soybeans is in the neighbourhood of 500,000 to 600,000 metric tons (10million to 12million bags of 50kg).
This shows a domestic supply short fall of about 1.5 million metric tons of soya beans (30 million bags of 50kg) worth N225 billion.
Boko Haram terrorists in the North-east zone have killed tens of farmers and destroyed extensive farmlands in the area. These attacks have been fingered as being partly responsible for the supply shortfall of the product.
Soybean is the staple food of both the people and the animals in the North-east.
Seyi Gbadamosi, chief executive, Royal Farm Produce, said that Buni Yadi in Yobe state is an example of one of the towns which produces very large quantities of soybeans in Northern Nigeria and it has come under heavy terror attacks in recent times, with the farmlands being burnt and abandoned.
Abdurahaman Modibbo Girei, president, Adamawa Chamber of Commerce and Industry told BusinessDay that farmers have abandoned their farms and fled, while major borders have been shut owing to high insecurity in the state.
“We export agric commodities to Cameroun and other parts of West Africa. We have groundnuts and vegetables, but borders to these countries have been shut. Farmers have deserted their farms and fled from hostile parts of the state, to less volatile areas,” Girei said.
Worse still, masts owned by major telecoms companies have been destroyed, making it difficult for few soybean farmers to establish contacts with their customers.
“Fifty-three of our telecoms sites were directly affected by the bomb attacks in the north-eastern part of Nigeria,” said Osondu Nwokoro, director, regulatory affairs, Airtel Nigeria, at a media briefing in Lagos.
“But 193 sites were impacted in all, as huge outages were sustained. The way the network architecture is designed, we have some telecoms masts that are hubs and control other base stations. So, if a hub is destroyed, then other masts that depend on the hub will be affected.”