Africa and Soybean Trials

Africa and Soybean Trials
Abush Tesfaye, Jimma Agricultural Research Institute - Ethiopia
Godfree Chigeza, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture - Zambia

The nations of Africa have struggled to feed themselves for decades. There are some places, like South Africa, that have successfully adapted some of world’s primary crops. Corn is a good example. Soybeans are also grown in Africa, but they’re not particularly high yielding varieties. Todd Gleason reports soybean breeders from three African institutions have been visiting the United States in hopes of making some improvements.

The Soybean Innovation Lab is on the third floor…
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2:57 radio self contained

The Soybean Innovation Lab is on the third floor of Mumford Hall at the University of Illinois. It is just an office space in the agricultural college. Well, not really just an office space. The lab works to find better ways for Africa to feed itself and grow local economies. This is much easier said than done. For instance, this fall three soybean breeders came to Illinois to learn how to set up better field trials. They face some unique and basic problems

Tesfaye :09 …there are no companies doing these envelopes.

Quote Summary - We cannot easily access the envelopes in our condition. We do not have many breeding programs, so there are no companies doing these envelopes.

That’s Abush Tesfaye (uh-bush tess-fay-ee) from Ethiopia and you heard that right. He can’t get envelopes… the little seed packet sized manila envelopes. It’s the way plant breeder keep different seeds separated from each other. They’ll have to make their own from cloth. But that’s not the biggest problem says Godfree Chigeza (chih-gay-zuh) from Zambia.

Chigeza :10 …is infrastructure. Moving from one site to another site.

Quote Summary - I think the major challenge for Africa is infrastructure. Moving from one site to another site.

Africa doesn’t have an infrastructure. There are so few roads it takes longer to get from one field to another, than it does to plant, care for, and harvest the field. Although they don’t have much equipment to carry. Here at Illinois U of I plant geneticist Randy Nelson took some time to show the Africans a how to use a one row push seeder.

Natural Sound :21

Nelson discussing hand held seeder.

The African breeders hope to adapt higher yielding varieties with the aid of the Soybean Innovation Lab. It is the fastest growing crop on the continent. Farmers with 2 to 10 acres are growing it to feed their chickens and send their kids to school. They grow other crops to feed themselves says Zambia’s Godfree Chigeza, but the soybean is meant to improve their lives.

Chigeza :07 …for farmers to move from being the poor, from poverty, they need also to have income.

They can raise and eat chic peas and maize and they do, but with the soybean they can sell and reinvest in their families. If you’d like to learn more about the Soybean Innovation Lab you can find it online. Just search Google for Soybean Innovation Lab.