Français

Script 117.0

Notes to broadcasters

Save and edit this resource as a Word document

This script is about how small-scale farmers should harvest soybean, including threshing, sorting, and grading it. The script also presents ways of avoiding losses throughout the whole process and how farmers can add value and prepare soybean recipes.

The script is based on interviews experts on soybean from Community Markets for Conservation and two farmers involved in cultivating soybean. Some of the interviews were done on location while others were by phone.

Almost suddenly, soybean has become an important crop for most households in the rural areas of eastern Zambia. In comparison to other crops that many small-scale farmers grow, soybean has excellent nutritional value. Demand on both the local and international market is very high and it fetches very good prices.

You might choose to present this script as part of your regular farmer program, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.

You could also use this script as a foundation for creating your own program on post-harvest activities, including processing, for soybeans.

You could interview small-scale farmers, extension workers, and soybean experts from government, NGOs, and industry. You could ask them:

  • What are the main causes of post-harvest loss in soybeans in this area?
  • What steps can farmers and consumers take to address those risks?

Estimated running time for the script: 20 minutes, with intro and outro music

Script

SFX:
FADE IN Program SIGNATURE TUNE, FADE OUT

HOST:
Welcome to Farming is a Business. My name is Filius Chalo Jere on Breeze FM and our program today is on soybean, which has suddenly become a very important crop for the farmer, the agro-dealer, and even the consumer.

In this program, we shall deal with soybean harvesting. from the point when the crop is removed from the field, as well as drying, threshing the beans, winnowing, and grading the soybeans up to the point of sale.

I am sure that this content will be important to all players in the soybean value chain.

SFX:
BRIDGING MUSIC

HOST:
Agricultural stakeholders usually come together for crop forecasting meetings in order to gauge the amount of crop to be expected, where it can be found, and at what price it can be bought and sold.

I was lucky that such a crop forecasting meeting was being held in preparation for the harvesting and marketing of soybeans. I was even luckier in that I was able to speak with Mr. Kenneth Linyunga, an agronomist of long experience, to share with us how farmers should properly harvest their soybean.

Mr. Kenneth Linyunga, in your opinion, why are small-scale farmers being encouraged to grow this crop?

KENNETH:
Soybean surpasses many traditional crops in terms of nutritional value and income. Firstly, it has a ready market and often sells at a much higher price than most crops. In Eastern Zambia, COMACO is such a market for farmers who sign conservation agreements.

HOST:
What’s COMACO?

KENNETH:
The acronym stands for Community Markets for Conservation. This organization is focused on the conservation of trees and wild animals and believes deforestation and poaching wildlife can be curbed if farmers are taught conservation farming methods and given good markets for their crops.

HOST:
Crops like soybeans?

KENNETH:
Yes, soybeans. This crop has many advantages. It is a healthy food and an excellent source of many nutrients. It is also very good in crop rotation because it enriches the soil. This is beneficial for any crop that follows soybean, especially a cereal crop like maize.

HOST:
No doubt small-scale farmers have been growing soybeans for quite a while now. Why has the crop suddenly come to the forefront?

KENNETH:
There’s a ready market because demand for soybean on both the local and the international market is very high. Small-scale farmers must benefit from this.

HOST:
How can they do that?

KENNETH:
First, they must learn and follow all the recommended cultural practices to ensure they have a good crop that will fetch good prices. They can learn this from various sources, such as radio programs or from their group trainers. Then they should increase the size of their fields so they can grow more soybean.

HOST:
What are some of the most important things farmers must know when it comes to harvesting soybeans?

KENNETH:
Farmers must understand that soybean shatters in the field if harvesting is delayed. Small-scale farmers might cultivate soybean successfully, but many of them may lose out due to poor harvesting methods. This often leads to poor quality crops which may be rejected on the market. Farmers also incur unnecessary losses at various stages of preparing the crop for the market.

HOST:
What do you mean by unnecessary losses?

KENNETH:
Because they can prevent these losses if they take care. The very first loss occurs when they neglect to weed their soybeans later in the season.

HOST:
But is weeding later in the season really necessary? I suppose by that time the soybeans are big enough to withstand the invasion of late weeds.

KENNETH:
That’s what many farmers think. But weeds mean competition for moisture and food. As a result, the soybeans don’t fill up properly. Unfortunately, farmers seldom relate late weeding to crop loss. They only relate crop losses to delay in harvesting their soybeans.

HOST:
How does delay in harvesting lead to post-harvest losses?

KENNETH:
When you delay and the crop dries up completely, the pods often shatter all at once. It’s impossible to pick the scattered soybeans in the field.

HOST:
How can a farmer avoid these pitfalls?

KENNETH:
That is the whole purpose of this crop forecasting meeting. We must assess how much soybean was grown in the field and help farmers with information about good harvesting practices that will lead to a good crop for sale.

HOST:
What exactly is involved in the whole process?

KENNETH:
First is the removal of the crop from the field. At this stage, the soybean is not very dry. So it must be placed on a hard surface, a slab or a tarpaulin, and left to dry. Then comes the threshing of the plants so the pods release the beans. Next, the soybeans must be cleaned to remove foreign material.

But, excuse me, we have some farmers attending this meeting. So allow me to call one or two because they can explain these activities better.

HOST:
Please make it two farmers, preferably a male and female.

SFX:
SHORT MUSICAL INTERLUDE

KENNETH:
I have found a lady and a gentleman away from the meeting. However, we shouldn’t keep them long. They represent their fellow soybean farmers and must participate fully in the proceedings.

HOST:
I will try not to keep them too long and thanks to the two of you for answering a few questions. May you kindly introduce yourselves.

THOKOZILE:
My name is Thokozile Khumalo. You may call me Thoko for short. I come from Lopo village and …

HOST:
(INTERRUPTING) Where is Lopo village?

THOKOZILE:
Lopo village is situated on the Zambia-Malawi border. With more than sixty households that depend on farming.

MUSHANGA:
I am Kenneth Mushanga.

KENNETH:
(JOKING) He’s my namesake! Makes me want to be a farmer like him one day.

KENNETH:
On my part, the similarity of names shows that I could have become an intellectual like him, too, involved in uplifting people’s lives the way he does.

HOST:
It’s interesting how destiny streamlines people differently. Anyway, for the purpose of this interview, allow me to just call you Mushanga. Where do you come from, Mr. Mushanga?

MUSHANGA:
I am from Chithadza village, ten kilometres east of Lopo village where Thokozile comes from. As Thoko said, most of us are small-scale farmers. Our staple food crops are maize and groundnuts. However, nowadays, many of us also grow soybeans. It is fast becoming a very important crop for us.

HOST:
I am interested in how you harvest soybeans and prepare it for sale. Particularly, how do you know it is ready for harvesting?

THOKOZILE:
The leaves look coarse and start turning brown. The pods also turn yellowish or brownish. When that happens, we must immediately start harvesting.

HOST:
Would it not be good to wait for the pods to dry up completely? I believe that’s what you do with maize and other crops.

THOKOZILE:
You are right. But soybean pods have the peculiar characteristic of shattering and scattering the beans all over the field all at once. That can be a great loss to us. So as soon as the signs of full maturity appear, we go in with sickles.

HOST:
You mean you cut the soybean plants using sickles? That must be laborious. Why not just pull the plants up? It would be quicker!

THOKOZILE:
Indeed, it would be easier and quicker. However, Rosa says soybean roots have a lot of nitrogen and should be left in the soil by just cutting them with a sickle or other tool. If we pull the plant up, we would literarily be pulling nitrogen out of the soil. Secondly, pulling the plants mixes the beans with soil and stones, hence ending up with a poor quality product.

HOST:
Who is Rosa?

KENNETH:
Her full name is Rosa Katanga, our expert in organic farming.

HOST:
Can Thoko here and Mushanga explain what they have learnt from Rosa and you?

THOKOZILE:
Of course, we can.

HOST:
So please explain briefly how you harvest your soybeans.

THOKOZILE:
We cut the plants in handfuls and put them in small heaps on one side of the field.

HOST:
Why not take them straight to the village?

THOKOZILE:
It is recommended that the soybean be threshed in the field so that the trash remains there. With time, the trash will break down, mix up with the soil, and rot into humus. This helps to improve the structure and fertility of the soil. But excuse me because we have jumped one stage here that comes before threshing.

HOST:
What stage is that?

THOKOZILE:
We must make sure that the harvested plants are dry enough before threshing. To do this, we spread a big tarpaulin on the ground where we can thresh the crop.

HOST:
But are tarpaulins available in the villages?

THOKOZILE:
No, unless you have a relative who drives trucks to give you an old one that can longer be used. Otherwise, we sew several used grain or fertilizer bags together to make something we can spread on the ground. Alternatively, we smear soil mixed with clay to make a hard surface on which we thresh the soybeans.

HOST:
After that you are ready to bring in the crop, I presume?

THOKOZILE:
(WITH A SMALL LAUGH) You presume wrongly. You see, we live in a village with a lot of livestock around. So we usually have to fence the place where we are going to put the soybeans. As we move the harvest from the field, we spread it evenly on the hard surface or tarpaulin to dry.

HOST:
What are the recommendations for proper drying?

KENNETH:
Farmers must avoid putting the soybeans in one big heap because ventilation will be poor. The soybeans might even rot in the pods due to mould. Next to shattering in the field, mold and rotting are the second point where farmers can incur post-harvest losses.

HOST:
Then comes the threshing, I presume?

THOKOZILE:
Again, you presume wrongly. We must leave the soybean within the enclosure for a few days. Hopefully, we don’t expect any late rains because that would completely destroy the soybean, leading to the biggest post-harvest loss a farmer can face.

HOST:
What a lot of bottlenecks!

THOKOZILE:
Indeed, it takes a lot to come up with a good product. If there is good sunshine, the soybeans dry up quickly. You can actually hear the pods cracking open and releasing the beans onto the sack or tarpaulin.

HOST:
So does that mean threshing happens naturally?

THOKOZILE:
Not really. Some pods remain intact even after receiving the heat of the sun. So afterwards we get sticks and thresh the plants in order for the remaining pods to open and release the soybeans. As we do so, bits and pieces of the plant stalks and pods also break up and get mixed with the beans. So we must now clean the soybeans using winnowing baskets.

HOST:
What are winnowing baskets?

THOKOZILE:
Winnowing baskets are flat, round vessels woven out of bamboo strips. They look like round trays. You put the soybeans inside and swing the basket up and down and round and round.

MUSHANGA:
(LAUGHS) It’s almost like a dance and requires exceptional patience and skill. The women who do this are adept at maneuvering the flat basket in such a way that the chaff and other foreign material automatically separates from the beans.

THOKOZILE:
But, although winnowing separates the chaff from the soybeans, we still need to grade the soybeans, especially if you want to sell to bigger local markets like COMACO or the international market.

HOST:
Do you aim for the international market at the village level?

KENNETH:
Yes, farmers should aim for that. They must always have product quality in mind for them to find a good market.

HOST:
What exactly do you mean by that?

KENNETH:
If the soybean is poor quality, it will be bought at a lower price. Farmers must always aim for an attractive price for their produce.

HOST:
Now I understand the need for grading. However, I thought the winnowing would have done a good job?

THOKOZILE:
Not completely. Some beans may have not reached full maturity by harvest time and will shrink and look pale when dry. Others are broken during threshing, while others may be rotten if there wasn’t enough time given to drying and mould attacked the soybeans.

HOST:
I still think grading is a lot of work for you farmers. Is there no labour-saving way of doing this?

KENNETH:
There is. We have special sieves that can separate the good beans from the small or broken ones and any trash that may remain after winnowing. Even after this, the farmer needs to pick out any diseased or shriveled beans that might pass through the sieve.

MUSHANGA:
After women pick out poor beans, the men receive the clean beans, pack them in bags, and sew the bags up, ready for the market.

HOST:
Do you have to be similarly careful with soybean that you intend to use for other purposes, for instance, soybean for your own consumption?

THOKOZILE:
Yes, you must remember that soybean is not our traditional crop. So whatever we do is what the agricultural extension workers advise us to do.

HOST:
What, exactly, is the importance of soybean in the home?

THOKOZILE:
Rosa says soybean is a very nutritious crop with a lot of protein and other nutrients that are good for our health. Therefore, if we just grow it for sale, all this goodness would leave our villages without any benefit to us. For that reason, we have learnt how to prepare various soybean recipes for our families.

HOST:
That’s very interesting. What are some of the things that you prepare from soybeans?

THOKOZILE:
We have been taught to prepare soy flour, which we use for baby porridge, and soy milk, soy sausage, and other foods.

MUSHANGA:
Careful now, Thoko, of cutting us adults out. Rosa said soybean porridge is good for every age. I love the taste and how it sits in the stomach when you take it as breakfast. It is also cheaper and more satisfying and nutritious than bread and tea.

THOKOZILE:
That’s right. Sometimes we pound the soybeans lightly so that the only break into small pieces. We then soak this preparation in warm water until we see the ooze turning whitish. Then we put small amounts of the soaked soybeans on mutton cloth and squeeze, releasing a white liquid. That is what we call soymilk.

HOST:
I have seen soymilk in the supermarkets. Does that come from the villages?

THOKOZILE:
No, what you see in the shops is an industrial product. What we process at village level is just for our own consumption. It’s not necessary for us to go to the shops and spend money to buy soymilk and other soy products that we can make for ourselves in the village. We don’t even need to buy coffee from the supermarket because Rosa has also taught us how to make soybean coffee.

HOST:
The list of what you can make from soybean seems endless. I am sure that this makes you almost self-sufficient.

THOKOZILE:
You could be right. For instance, instead of buying bread and coffee from the shops for our morning breakfast, we can prepare our own home-made soybean coffee and add our own home-made soymilk. We can then drink our home-made coffee with fritters or cakes made from soybean flour.

HOST:
Interesting, everything is home-made!

KENNETH:
Yes, indeed. However, farmers must be careful when preparing soybean recipes for home consumption.

HOST:
Why?

KENNETH:
Because unprocessed soybean has an element that interferes with the trypsin enzyme in our bodies and so this enzyme fails to break down the proteins in our food. For that reason, our bodies are deprived of the body-building proteins.

HOST:
(JOKING) You lose me with your scientific terms. But seriously, please explain a bit more about this bad element and how it can be dealt with.

KENNETH:
Commonly, this bad element is called trypsin inhibitor. It is one of the reasons why it is not advisable for farmers to feed soybeans to their chickens.

HOST:
Why shouldn’t they?

KENNETH:
The inhibitor will prevent the enzyme from breaking the proteins down for the body to use. As a result, the chickens are deprived of proteins and become stunted.

HOST:
That’s quite frightful because I believe what affects the chickens can also affect humans in a similar manner.

KENNETH:
Indeed, it can. However, it has been discovered that heat deactivates the trypsin inhibitor in soybeans. This heat treatment is easy to apply in industrial procedures. At the village level, it is recommended that soybean be boiled for thirteen minutes or more before processing it for consumption.

HOST:
Indeed, listeners, soybean is a most wonderful crop in that it will give you, the farmer, good money at the market and good and nutritious food for the family. In short, soybean is good for the pocket and the stomach!

But remember that, on top of that, it will also leave a lot of nitrogen in the field if you follow recommended harvesting methods. If you grow maize after soybean in a rotation, your maize will benefit. So the onus is on you farmers to take up this important crop and grow it every season. It will never let you down.

From Breeze FM, my name is Filius Chalo Jere, otherwise known as the Farmers’ friend, signing off until next time.

SFX:
SIGNATURE TUNE UP AND OUT

Acknowledgements

Contributed by: Filius Chalo Jere, Producer, Farming is a Business, Breeze FM, Chipata, Zambia

Reviewed by: Kenneth Linyunga, Provincial Extension Manager, Community Markets for Conservation, Chipata

Interviews:

Kenneth Linyunga, Provincial Extension Manager, Community Markets for Conservation, Chipata, 28 April 2021

Nemiah Tembo, Conservation Manager, Community Markets for Conservation, 26 April 2021

Rosa Katanga, Organic and Community Development Specialist, Community Markets for Conservation, 27 April 2021,

David Sakala, Quality Control Manager, Community Markets for Conservation, 27 April 2021,

Chisenga Shula, Production Manager, Community Markets for Conservation, 26 April 2021

Kenneth Mushanga, Lead Farmer, Chithadza Village, Chipata, 28 April 2021

Thokozile Khumalo, Lead Farmer, Lopo Village, Chipata. 28 April 2021

This resource was supported with the aid of a grant from The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) implementing the Green Innovation Centre project.