THE Department of Science and Technology (DoST) said it hopes to increase the income of soybean farmers through improved production and more efficient supply chains.

“The Soybean R&D (Research and Development) program aims to increase farm income by integrating soybean in different cropping systems and improve the supply of local soybeans from more efficient supply chains and from higher productivity of food-grade soybeans on-farm,” Rolando S. Corpuz, industry strategic S&T program manager for legumes from the DoST Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), said in an e-mail interview.

The Philippines currently imports almost 99% of its soybean requirement for food and feed from the United States, while the remaining 1% is locally-produced.

Mr. Corpuz said the Department of Agriculture (DA) estimates domestic production of soybean of around 2,000 to 3,000 tons per year which goes entirely to the food industry. Averaging P30 per kilo, the crop’s value of production is estimated at between P120 million to P180 million.

“Soybean is a very valuable raw material for various food products which can serve as an alternative to the traditional providers of sustenance among Filipinos,” Mr. Corpuz said.

Some of the potential products include soymilk, soy coffee, soybean curd, and soy sauce.

PCAARRD started the Soybean R&D program in May 2017, a three-year program with a total approved budget of P49.395 million.

The program is implemented in cooperation with the University of the Philippines Los Baños and the DA. Project sites are the major soybean growing areas of Isabela, Bukidnon, Davao City, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, Agusan del Sur, and Surigao del Sur.

The program in Surigao del Sur is being implemented by Surigao del Sur State University. Aside from enhancing the soybean value chain in the province, the program aims to develop sustainable soybean production in the upland in areas of Tandag, Tago and San Miguel.

Mr. Corpuz the program also hopes to make domestic soybean more competitive globally via the development of large-seeded soybeans, as well as improved quality, packaging, and handling. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang