Durban has won the bid to host the 2013 World Soyabean Research Conference (WSRC).
This will mark the first time the conference is hosted on African soil.
It is hoped that the conference – to be held at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre – will help create a consciousness of the growing production and nutritional value of the protein-rich soya bean, a crop that can easily be grown throughout Africa to help alleviate the continent’s tight food supply.
Soya bean is the world’s leading source of protein for livestock and aquaculture, although one of its drawbacks as a food crop is that it cannot be eaten without processing, because it contains antinutritional factors, such as trypsin inhibitors, which stop the absorption of protein in the body. Trypsin is the enzyme that digests protein. These antinutritional factors are destroyed by high temperatures, such as boiling the soya beans for 30 minutes before processing the soy milk or soy flour.
Soy is also a popular source of protein for many cultures in Asia and increasingly has a role to play in tackling malnutrition in developed and developing countries.
Soya bean, with its 40% protein content, is richer than any other food crop or even livestock. It is also made up of 20% oil, and contains all the eight essential amino acids, making it the healthiest legume crop. Unfortunately, the crop is not well exploited in sub-Saharan Africa, where it is mostly seen as a cash crop.
Soya bean production in African countries is generally low owing to a lack of high-yielding varieties, a lack of good crop management practices and poor market access.
“The African continent produces less than one-million tons of soya beans a year, whereas the US produces up to 29-million tons of soya beans a year. This may well be the answer to the nutritional problems that overwhelm our continent,” says Durban deputy mayor Logie Naidoo.
“I believe that, in 2013, we will be exceed- ingly advanced with soy products, making [it] a revolutionary eating product worldwide.”
The WSRC is a regular forum for the world’s soya bean researchers to exchange research results and development activities across all segments of the soya bean industry. It also promotes international communication and cooperation.
A continuing committee, consisting of representatives from different regions of the world, gives guidance to the conference planners. A quinquennial event and the top international conference for the soya bean research community and the industry at large, seven WSRCs have been held in different countries since being launched by the University of Illinois in 1975.
The conference organisers are expanding the conference to include a Soya Bean Industry Forum, which will discuss and develop a global blueprint for a safe, secure and sustainable supply of soy for food, feed, fuel and fibre. Apart from the scientific exchange and Soya Bean Industry Forum, they will also showcase new varieties, new products, new technologies and the latest publications.