A Few Notes on Africa’s Soybean Production

By Wandile Sihlobo :

South Africa, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Egypt are the only African countries amongst the world’s top 40 soybean producers, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

South Africa is the only African country with a production of over a million tons. In the current season, the crop is estimated at 1.4 million tons. This is due to an increase in area planted, technological improvements in the form of seeds, fertilizers and better farming practices, amongst others. A large number of South African farmers are increasingly planting genetically modified (GM) soybean crops.

In the 2016/2017 production season, roughly 95% of South Africa’s soybean plantings were under GM seeds. This is the only country on the African continent that produces GM soya beans. Therefore, it is no coincidence that South Africa continues to enjoy tremendous growth in soybean output, while production in other African countries remains negligible. The closest to South Africa’s production level is Nigeria, where output averaged 640 000 tons over the past five seasons.

Recent data from the USDA shows that Nigeria’s 2017/2018 soybean production could amount to 600 000 tons, roughly unchanged from the previous season due to unfavourable weather conditions over the past few months. This is slightly below Nigeria’s annual consumption of 610 000 tons of soya beans.

Zambia’s and Zimbabwe’s 2017/2018 soybean production could amount to 300 000 tons and 50 000 tons, respectively down by 15% and 29% from the previous production season. The decline in production in both countries is due to unfavourable weather conditions earlier in the season. The soybean production in both Uganda and Egypt is negligible, estimated at 30 000 tons and 25 000 tons ,respectively.