Soy is regarded as something of a miracle bean in the agricultural sector. The Chinese bean can be found in many food products, but it is primarily used to feed cattle to provide them with protein. Massive amounts of soy beans are used in Europe, but the continent is currently mainly dependant on US imports. currently have to depend on imports from America. With growing ambitions however, Luxembourg plans to produce more of its own soy.
The Grand-Duchy alone imports an entire tennis court (260 square metres) of soy beans per head in a year. This amounts to 29,000 tons of soy, which is primarily imported from South America. Import is the cheapest option, but, according to the director of organic agriculture IBLA Stéphanie Zimmer, something will have to change. Currently, soy is imported from very far away, rainforest is cut down and people are cast out of forests.
In addition, American soy is often genetically modified and several dairy farms refuse to feed this to their cattle. There is a possibility to reduce the use of imported soy to feed cattle and to grow the bean in Luxembourg, which could reduce imports by half.
IBLA has successfully tested the growth of soy in Luxembourg. There are currently still issues with processing soy. For instance, it has to be roasted in order to be fed to animals. Due to the lack of roasting facilities in Luxembourg, this cannot currently be done on site. IBLA, however, are optimistic as they are already discussing potential future collaborations with facilities in Bavaria and Belgium.
During "Vegetable Day" at the agricultural school in Ettelbruck, Luxembourgish farmers informed the public about soy, which is currently only grown on IBLA’s test farms. One of these farms belongs to organic farmer Patrick François. He has had successful first trials and if weeds can be controlled, he is optimistic about future growth of soy beans in Luxembourg.
Stéphanie Zimmer clarifies that imports will not entirely be stopped. However, if one in two farmers grew soy, Luxembourg would have enough soy to feed to its pigs and poultry.