soybean
soybean

The farmers are extracting milk from the highly nutritious legume, offering another option apart from the cow, goat or camel milk.

“People get mesmerized by the idea of the soybean milk. But they come to believe that you can actually get milk out of it after drinking tea made of the milk,” said Reuben Ng’ang’a, the coordinator at the Edgewood Value Addition Self-Help Group, which hires farmers from Kabazi, north of Nakuru town.

They specifically make good use of the Gazelle and Nyala varieties, which have scientifically proven to be rich in the content, Ng’ang’a said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

“The milk from these varieties does not have a tone of grey or bad smell and one can use it to make tea or mix it with porridge. You can also use it to make snacks like mandazi (doughnut),” he said.

The farmers embraced the value addition in 2010 after attending a sensitization drive at the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization.

“We had no idea that the soybeans can produce milk. But we are thankful to God that the experts at the institute opened our eyes. They explained to us everything about the best varieties to use and how to extract the milk,” he said.

Each member grows the appropriate varieties in varying sizes of land and the soybeans mature in six months, Ng’ang’a said.

Currently, the farmers are extracting the milk manually. Ng’ang’a identifies this as one of their major hurdles preventing them from going large scale.

“We have already been seeking a machine and it is selling at 3,000 dollars but we are unable to raise the wholesome amount. We only wish we could find a way to get the full amount or someone could help us acquire the machine,” said he.

“We had even received an order from a local supermarket but we could not manage to meet their demand because of our incapability to produce in large scale,” he added.

For now, they have to use the traditional means of extracting the milk, which begins with soaking soybeans in warm water for at least 15 minutes to soften them before they are crushed.

A piece of clean cloth is then used to squeeze out the milk into a sterilized bucket or container. The collected milk is sieved to remove any organic matter and sediments, and after that it is ready for use.

“We have many people from Nakuru and other parts of the country asking about the milk, our major challenge is maintaining a consistent supply,” said Ng’ang’a.

“We allow our customers to bring their soybeans and we extract the milk for them. A kilogram goes for 1.5 dollars,” he said.

They also receive visits from other farmers yearning to learn how to diversify benefits of the soybeans. The soybean is commonly known in Kenya for making additives used to flavour tea. Some other varieties are good for oil extraction.

Ng’ang’a said they were aggressively sourcing for funds to mechanize their production to meet the needs of their customers.

“Getting the machine would enable us to advance into producing huge quantities of the milk and expand into the large scale farming of the soybeans,” he said.

“We will shift from extracting the milk on order, which means our supply will be reliable and consistent and of course our activities will open up job opportunities for youth from this area,” he added. Enditem

by Robert Manyara, Xinhua/News Ghana

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