Soybean Possess Potential To Fill Demand Gap Of Oil Seeds In Pakistan

Pakistan is ranked third for the largest import of edible oil and oil seeds-based food or feedstocks for fulfilling domestic needs after petroleum products and machinery.

Soybean Possess Potential To Fill Demand Gap Of Oil Seeds In Pakistan

Soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) is an annual oilseed crop mainly grown for edible seeds that has the potential to fill the gap between production and demand of edible oil and oil seeds in Pakistan.

Pakistan is ranked third for the largest import of edible oil and oil seeds-based food or feedstocks for fulfilling domestic needs after petroleum products and machinery.

The lapse between production and consumption of edible oil and oil seeds in Pakistan is increasing day by day due to a growing population and an increase in per capita consumption of edible oil in our daily diet. Soybean is a versatile crop known as a “wonder crop” due to the multiplicity of its uses as food and industrial products.

It has been fast growing and dynamic and has held the crown place among economically significant oil seeds crop for the past couple of decades, not only in Pakistan but all over the world.

Although soybean was first introduced in Pakistan during the early 1960s, its cultivation remained halted until the 1970s due to various concerns, which were later resolved, and vast areas of the Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab provinces of Pakistan were found ideal for the commercial cultivation of soybean.

However, in the current review , soybean cultivation has been limited, and it has started disappearing gradually from Pakistan’s cropping schemes.

In the previous few years, we have analysed the available facts and figures and observed that, despite suitable agro-ecological conditions, soybean is facing several challenges, such as small acreage, a lack of extension services, , deficiency of climate resilient varieties, and a lack of coherent policy to promote local oilseed production.

After considering and analysing the circumstances behind the low cultivation of soybean in Pakistan, we have proposed potential solutions for enhancing the cultivation of oil seeds.

Soybean (Glycine max) is also called Soja bean or Soya bean and is the world’s most important annual legume, accounting for 80% of the area and 68% of the legumes produced. It is the most nutritious source of protein (40%) for human food as well as animal feed. The seeds also contain 18–22% edible oil and fulfil the rising demands of the food and feed industries.

In recent scenarios, most of the world’s soybeans have been crushed or processed into soybean meal and oil. It has been estimated that almost 2% of soybean production is consumed directly by humans as food, which amounts to approximately 3 MMT.

It is extensively grown on a large scale in both temperate and tropical regions, including China, Thailand, Indonesia, Brazil, the United States, and Japan, where it has become a major agricultural crop and a notable export commodity. Even the soybean industry is rising very sharply in Pakistan. It is making itself a potential key player in global food security insurance.

It is an important and rich source of vitamins E, K, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, choline, and several antioxidants like isoflavones, chlorogenic acid, isomers, caffeine, and ferulic acid, making it the most valuable crop from every perspective. The nutritional composition of soybean seed is presented in the table below.

Nutrients Quantity

Proteins(%) 37-42
Carbohydrates (%) 30
Oil contents (%) 17-24
Lipids (%) 20
Fats (per 172 g of edible part) 15
Water(%) 63
Ash (%) 6
Fibers (%) 10
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (%) 85
Energy (kcal) 298
Vitamins(%) 10

Soybean is mainly considered native to Eastern Asia (China, Korea, and Japan), from where it spread to all parts of the world, like Europe and the U.S.A., during the 18th century. Evidence from Chinese history also confirmed its existence as early as 5,000 years ago as food and a component of drugs .

Although researchers believe that Australia and Eastern Africa are other possible centres of origin for the genus Soybean, As described above In Pakistan, after preliminary trials in Sindh Province, its seed was released commercially in the 1970s along with sunflower and safflower.

Although the soil and climatic conditions of Pakistan are suitable for soybean cultivation, due to various reasons, it has not gained popularity among farmers. Contradicting with these findings, recent reports show that from the late 1990s through 2002, soybeans had been grown extensively and successfully all over the country.

Commercialization of Soya beans in Pakistan

At the time of soybean introduction in Pakistan, three varieties—S.B.L. (yellow seed), “K-16’, and “K-30” (black seed)—were selected for commercial cultivation in Sindh, and later on, various trials were performed at multiple locations. With the passage of time, these trials continued and are still ongoing.

The productivity of imported lines declined over time because they were less adapted to the local conditions, despite providing a good yield in the early years. A gradual decline in production is attributed to the lack of a sound and logical basis for identifying the soybean cultivars suitable for different zones with differing agro-ecological scenarios.

As of recent, nine varieties of soybean have been released and are commercially available for distribution to farmers now.

Commercial varieties of soybean available in Pakistan are at least 20 years old, and no significant developments have been made yet for breeding and developing new cultivars over this time span, but many efforts are underway.

Current scenario of soybean cultivation in Pakistan

Dates received from the economic years 2001–2002 witnessed the maximum area under soybean cultivation and corresponding yield, which declined fastly thereafter, reaching its lowest in 2017 both in terms of acreage and yield.

According to the agricultural statistics of Pakistan, Punjab and Sindh didn’t contribute much to soybean cultivation and had no area under cultivation. Imports from the soybean industry have been rising from previous years,and imports of various products like soymeal and soybean oils during the last 55 years (1964–2019) are still continuing.

Soybean production for 2022 totaled 4.28 billion bushels, which was down 4% from 2021 production. Ongoing work is being done on the breeding and varietal development of soybeans. PARC has taken the lead in improving the productivity of imported lines and developing new varieties.

Two programs, the international varietal evaluation experiment and the national uniform soybean yield trial, proved worthwhile in which cultivars were evaluated based on various attributes in addition to their performance under different management trials encompassing depth of sowing, inoculation, fertiliser- cum inoculation, row spacing, etc .

In addition to the leading roles of PARC and N.A.R.C. in varietal development, there is also a major contribution from the Oilseed Research Institute (ORI) at the A.A.R.I., Faisalabad.

The oilseed research institute has developed a promising variety, ‘Faisal Soybean,” suitable and adaptive for the climatic conditions of Punjab. Other two prominent and competent soybean varieties, ‘Swat-84’ and “Malakand-96,” declared for general cultivation in KP province, were developed by the Agricultural Research Institute (A.R.I.) in Swat in 1984 and 1996, respectively.


Due to its lack of a coherent production policy like other major crops, soybeans could not be commercialised, and the area under its cultivation was gradually reduced.

Mainly, issues like lack of marketing of produce and its byproducts, absence of adequate skills, unavailability of extension services, inadequate knowledge and production technology, and low economic return hindered soybean commercialization. The main bottleneck in crop adoption is the unavailability of high yielding, climate-ready, and pest resistant soybean varieties.

Various cultivars of soybeans are susceptible to newly evolving viral pathogens. Among these, the Soybean Mosaic Virus (SMV) is one of the most prevalent and destructive viral diseases in soybean production worldwide. As a non-traditional crop, the overall soybean production in the country is not sufficient to fulfil the demands, and in some areas it is almost negligible.


However, there is huge potential to tap the local demand for soybeans by commercialising the soybean crop in Pakistan. Moreover, soybean is a profitable crop with growing demand from the poultry feed and food industries. The government needs to put in place a soybean promotion policy in favour of local production and discourage heavy imports from North and South America in order to promote local production .

Moreover, this will help the agricultural industry to not only meet the local burgeoning demand for soybeans but also enable Pakistan to become self sufficient and export soybeans and their products. Concrete efforts at the policy and research levels are urgently needed for the successful cultivation of this very important food and feed crop and to save billions of dollars that are currently being spent on imports of soybeans to satisfy increasing demands.