Perhaps next to cassava, soybean is becoming the most popular cash crop to farm, especially among smallholder farmers also because of its vast potential for processing into value-added products like taho, tofu and soymilk, among others.
To help the public and policy makers become more aware of soybean’s potential, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), an agency under the Department of Agriculture (DA), launched last this week during its 30th anniversary celebration a coffee table book (CTB) titled “SOYAmazing Stories from the Field/Results from Soybean R&D Program.” The BAR and the DA-High Value Crops Development Program kicked off the National Soybean Program in 2011.
The CTB contains 30 stories of how soybean has transformed smallholder farmers, farmer and women organizations, religious organizations and even cancer patients in a positive way. A story on how the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization, also under the DA, cooperated with BAR in developing post-harvest and mechanization for soybean is also included.
“Soybean is a wonder crop. Its value as a protein source is legendary. It is a main ingredient for so many things including food, animal and fish feed, and pharmaceutical and industrial products. Cheaper locally sourced soybeans can tremendously improve the Filipino families’ nutrition and health,” Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol said in his message in the book.
Among the touching stories in the CTB is how the Our Lady of divine Providence launched a feeding program for malnourished children in Isabela province through soybean products it grew and processed. The group took part in the soybean program through the DA Cagayan Valley office.
Cancer survivor Leonilo dela Cruz also championed soybean in Nueva Ecija after being convinced of its health benefits. He now heads the Golden Beans and Grains Producers Cooperative that is producing soybean-based products and farming the crop.
And in Mindoro, indigenous peoples are starting to plant soybean with the help of non-government organizations and the DA Mimaropa office.
“Soybean, which has been largely ignored by farmers for many decades, is gradually getting recognized as a versatile plant to intercrop or grown solely in lands where other crops cannot obtain optimum yields. And more importantly, soybean can be processed into various products like soymilk and tofu [bean curd], among others, without the need to invest in large machineries costing millions of pesos; soybean processing can be done at the household or community level,” said BAR Executive Director Nicomedes Eleazar in his message in the book.