The Edamame Development Programme: A super soybean for local job creation

The Edamame Development Programme was set up in 2009 as a partnership between the Jobs Fund (R19 million) and eThekwini Municipality (R5 million) to establish an edamame soybean industry in South Africa. Edamame is a high-nutrient, high-value food crop that can contribute to local economic development and improve food security.

Over the past five years, the programme has created jobs in the agricultural sector through its farmer development programme and supported about 83 commercial contracted emerging farmers and 256 small-scale growers by providing free seed, training and mentorship.

The programme supplies soybean to, among others, Food Lover’s Market and Woolworths. The programme has attracted foreign interest and its export registration was approved in 2015. The programme has also partnered with other government entities as well as local and international research institutions.

The Edamame Development Programme and eThekwini Municipality, supported by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Jobs Fund, hosted a successful Agribusiness and Food Nutrition seminar in Durban on 22 January 2016 to share knowledge, network and explore the growth of the edamame industry in South Africa.

Key issues discussed included the health benefits for local citizens, the programme’s job sustainability, including community development aspects in the programme, and the importance of building a market for the product both locally and internationally. The seminar highlighted the importance of expanding partnerships and collaboration in growing the Edamame Development Programme. More events were proposed to discuss ways to further develop South Africa’s edamame industry.

The Edamame Development Programme is on track to achieving its local job creation goals and there are opportunities for substantial economic growth. Although there are still challenges that need to be addressed, the partnerships that have been established will play a big role in ensuring that the programme’s goals are met, especially growing the export market. Locating the programme closer to the Dube Trade Port will also help elevate the success of this inventive job creation initiative.

For more information about this Jobs Fund Project visit www.edamame.co.za.To download presentations from the Food and Agribusiness Seminar, visit http://mile.org.za/QuickLinks/News/Pages/news_20160122.aspx.