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AGRIWATCH

Poor find joy in soy

MANILA, Philippines – After my commentary on soy’s commercial value and profitability was published on July 6, I received several calls on how soy can bring joy to poor farmers.

I write this for the benefit of those too poor to engage even in a small soy business.

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Over the last three weeks, I found out how beneficial soy can truly be for a poor farmer and his family. I narrated my findings and recommendations to Rose Marie Aquino (0915-4622438), chair of the technical working group of the National Soy Bean Program.

“In my opinion, soy is the most beneficial crop that can help poor farmers,” she said.

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Home use

This commentary will only cover soy’s home use.

A farmer should first invest P50 to buy a kilo of soy beans. In three months, this will yield an average of 25 kilos.

Of course, he can sell this to the market vendor for P30 a kilo, who can then sell it to the end consumer for P35. This will give the farmer a P750 return from his initial P50 investment after only three months.

But he can get even higher value from soy. Together with Aquino, I developed a model where a farmer can get two other farmers to join him in securing the best value.

The farmer should bring a kilo of his harvest every two days to the market vendor, who will grind his soy for P15. This will produce 10 liters of soy milk and half a kilo of sapal (or soy meal).

Nutritionally, the five members of a farmer’s family each needs two glasses of soy milk a day, or 10 glasses. But the 10 liters of soy milk the farmer gets from a kilo of soy may be equivalent to 60 glasses. Therefore, there will be 50 glasses of milk left after a day.

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The milk can last two days even without refrigeration. Therefore, there will be an oversupply of 40 glasses after two days. This is where the two other farmers come in. The group can program the soy bean grinding so that a kilo of soy is ground every two days. This way, all the milk will be consumed.

The savings are significant. Instead of spending P458 for an equivalent amount of imported milk powder that will produce the same 10 liters of milk, this may be gotten for free from the soy milk.

For food, the half kilo of sapal from the kilo of ground soy bean can be mixed with sweet potato (kamote) and squash (kalabasa). Add salt or food seasoning, and you have a delicious soy bola-bola that may provide a family of five enough protein for two days. This will enable the family to save P70 every two days, if we assume this to be the equivalent cost of chicken protein.

Information dissemination

Good nutrition, huge savings, and a small investment of only P50—what a deal!

For inclusive growth, it is imperative that soy information be widely disseminated.

Last July 20, at the monthly Techno-Demo Forum hosted by DZRB’s Francis Cansino, I talked to Nilo Dela Cruz (0906-7813294), chair of the Golden Beans and Grains Producers Cooperative in Nueva Ecija.

He had read my soy commentary, but did not know about the national soy roadmap. We agreed on the need for regional and provincial soy roadmaps.

Seven days later, Dela Cruz conducted a soy roadmap planning and organizing session for Nueva Ecija. He talked to Jenny Castañeto (0917-5276171) of the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Agriculture Research (DA-BAR) about making the local soy plans an integral part of the national soy roadmap.

Inclusive growth thrusts

From August 8 to 10, DA-BAR Director Nicomedes Eleazar (0918-9198018) will sponsor a soy exhibition at the SM Megamall on Edsa.

Aquino will personally preside the Aug. 8 session on soy uses, applications and even recipes for the public for free.

Truly, the farmers can find joy in soy. But first they must know about it. This is why the soy initiative spearheaded by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, as well as his other inclusive growth thrusts, must be supported by Congress when it deliberates on the DA’s budget in the months ahead.

(The author is chair of Agriwatch. For inquiries and suggestions, e-mail [email protected] or telefax 8522112)

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TAGS: Business, crops, food, income, profits, soy
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