Potential Of Soybean For Sustainable Agriculture
Seeds of soybean have been used in Asia for centuries to prepare a variety of fresh fermented and dry foods.
Sustainable agriculture means that kind of agriculture that has the potential to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations, and the balance between economy and environmental care should also be maintained, soybean is such a species of legume. It is widely grown for its edible beans.
Seeds of soybean have been used in Asia for centuries to prepare a variety of fresh fermented and dry foods. Soybean is originally from China. Soybean was introduced to Pakistan as an oil seed crop during the early 1960s.
Soybeans gained importance because of their high protein content (about 48–50% protein). Swelling, solubility, and viscosity are responsible for its wide use in industrial processes.
Soybean is a highly nutritious crop.
They are sources of various vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K1, folate, copper, manganese, phosphorus, and thiamine. It is used in animal food and feed products and industrial applications. The crop is also known to have a positive impact on soil health and fertility.
Soybeans have reduced the use of synthetic fertilizers, because this crop is known to fix nitrogen in soil. It can also suppress weed growth and reduced the need for herbicides. Soybean is a good rotation crop that can help break disease cycles, improve soil structure and enhance water retention.
It proves to be the most popular means of relief from PCM (protein calorie malnutrition), as protein is beyond the means of many people to afford (from animals).
Currently, soybean cultivation in Pakistan has a small acreage. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Sindh are areas where it is cultivated. The new soybean lines can produce 480–720 kg per acre in an intercropping system at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad.
Although the soil and climatic conditions of Pakistan are suitable for soybean cultivation, due to a lack of breeding and genetics work, it is not gaining popularity. Pakistan has been importing around 2million tons of Soybean annually for last eight years from US and Brazil.
Soybean accounted for 1.87% of the total import flow to Pakistan, which cost about Rs 1,232,104 million during April 2022. The need of the hour is to develop soybean varieties and germplasm for use as genetic resources for companies and for direct on farm production.
Soybean is a profitable crop as well. It’s per acre cost is about 42–78 dollars per acre, depending on target yield and tillage practices. Challenges in soybean production in Pakistan include weather fluctuation, pest and disease pressure, market volatility, and the need for continuous improvement in production practices.
As world population continues to grow, the demand for soybeans is likely to grow. Moreover, the soybean crop has the potential to contribute to climate change mitigation by sequestering carbon in the soil. However, to achieve these goals there is a dire need of continuous research, innovations, collaboration among farmers, researchers and policymakers.