By NBF News
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A $20million factory that will take delivery of locally produced soybeans at the end of this year's harvest, and open up new marketing opportunities for Nigerian soybean farmers has been established.

The 75,000 metric tons processing capacity factory located in Abuja will create additional stable and sustainable demand for soybean in one of Africa's major producers.

Karma Foods plans to source 100% of its soybean demand locally, says Dipak Mirchandani, Chairman of the firm, ahead of a stakeholder conference on soybean in Makurdi, Benue State this week.

'We hope that this investment will help reposition soybean production in Nigeria, and more importantly, it will profit the Nigerian soybean farmer because he now not only has options to sell his products, but also can plant with a sense of security and the assurance that his produce has a committed buyer,' he adds.

To meet the company's soybean demand, Karma Foods and researchers from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture under the Tropical Legume ?? project and the University of Agriculture Makurdi will be backstopping farmers in Benue state with best practices in soybean production.

'We see Benue farmers as key stakeholders in this project because the state plays a leading role in soybean production,' says Mirchandani.

The company, the biggest soybean factory in Sub Saharan Africa outside of South Africa, will be creating tens of thousands of jobs along the soybean value chain, which will help reduce the level of unemployment in Nigeria in line with President Goodluck Jonathan's transformational agenda.

Dr. Alpha Kamara, IITA Systems Agronomist, says the emergence of Karma Foods will go a long way in increasing soybean production in northern Nigeria with a resultant increase in farmers' income.

He explains that IITA and partners are already promoting soybean production through the provision of high yielding improved varieties, creating awareness, promoting sustainable seed production systems (community seed schemes) and strengthening the capacities of seed companies to package and sell improved seeds.

Described as a 'miracle bean' or 'golden bean' because of its cheap protein-rich grain, soybean production in Nigeria has been stymied by unfavorable market which often times results to cyclical gluts.

Dr. Lucky Omoigui, Molecular Geneticist/Plant Breeder at the University of Agriculture Makurdi, says the new partnership between research and industry will create sustainable demand and supply for the commodity, and make the farmers proud hence they now have a very large and committed buyer who is reaching out to them.

Over the years, IITA has made substantial efforts to improve the productivity of the crop by developing high yielding, early maturing varieties capable of nodulating in association with local rhizobia, and possessing other good agronomic traits. The institute has also developed and released rust resistant soybean.