A nutrition boost thanks to soyabeans

Ghanaian woman carrying her child. Photo: Ilse de Jager

More than a quarter of young children aged under five in northern Ghana are undernourished. N2Africa taught women in this region how to use soyabeans to prepare more nutritious meals.

Improving household income and nutrition using grain legumes is paramount in addressing nutrition problems in northern Ghana. A report by the Ghana Demographic Health Survey indicated that more than a quarter of children under five years of age in the Upper West Region were undernourished. This included severe acute malnutrition and high levels of anaemia.

Soyabeans are a source of protein, vitamin B and micronutrients and can be used to fortify cereal-based diets. However, soyabeans need to be processed before they are edible. Improved knowledge and skills for processing soyabeans were therefore crucial. N2Africa set out to develop legume-enriched food baskets for smallholder families to improve their nutrition, choosing three action sites for the N2Africa project in northern Ghana that had the most malnourished populations in the country.

Children helping the women cook by fetching water from the water pump. Photo: Ilse de Jager

To achieve this, women from households within the project area were taught how to process legume grains and get more value from them. Women In Agriculture Development (WIAD) from the Regional Department of Agriculture in the action areas facilitated the two-day training course. The women being trained were caterers in the school meals programme for primary schools and owners of local restaurants. They were taught how to prepare and add value to soyabeans for both domestic and public consumption.

The trainees were caterers in the school meals programme involving primary schools and owners of local restaurants

Jato Passé, a leader of a farmer-based organization in Bienye, was one of the trainees. She learned how to improve nutrition and food security in the home using soyabeans and cowpeas. She observed that members of the Bienye community benefited immensely from the programme.
“N2Africa taught us how to process soyabeans into various traditional dishes like tubannee,” Jato Passé recalls. “We were also shown how to combine soyabeans with corn dough in baking.”

Video: Soya milk production on village scale in DRC. Produced by Taskscape Associates

A turning point

Modesta Gamba had been selling the popular staple foods banku and fufu for over twenty years in Jang, Upper West Region. In 2015, she was one of the women in her community who were given the training. The mother of five says that the training was a turning point for her business, as adding soyabeans to her meals increased the number of customers.

Modesta doubles up as a caterer who cooks for 75 to 80 pupils within her community, under the Government of Ghana’s school meals programme, where she readily applies the knowledge she acquired. “I mix two kilos of soyabeans powder with four kilos of maize floor to prepare corn dough,” says Modesta. “I then mix this with one kilo of cassava dough to prepare banku.” They also learned to mix soyabean flour with groundnut powder when preparing the paste used in groundnut soup. Modesta says the innovations in her food have earned her referrals and helped grow her business.

Food made of soyabeans in the school meals in northern Ghana. Photos: Eric Doe

Soyabean cakes and kebabs

In Bawku, located in Ghana’s Upper East Region, Zulaiha Musa has learned from fellow farmers how to prepare soyabean cakes and kebabs for sale. This initiative enlightened her on the many uses of soyabeans.

“I was taught how nutritious soyabeans are and the many ways I can add value to them,” Zulaiha Musa explains. “I also use the residue to feed my livestock. Nothing goes to waste.”

The learning continues, as the women who benefited from the training gave a step-down training course for other women in the communities the following year.


  • Legume-enriched food baskets for smallholder families were developed to improve their nutrition.
  • Women from households within the project areas were taught how to add value to legume grains and how to process them.
  • Local women said the innovations led to business growth and improved taste of their food products.

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