A friend uttered a warning which has considerable significance. He said: "I am quite in favour of the reforms you suggest. You may put as much emphasis as you like on the importance of vitamins in our diet. But please don't let in enemies unawares. Thus, for instance, one of the things much boomed about nowadays is soya beans. I agree that they are rich in proteins. But is it certain that our mung, udad, massoor, chola, peas, and such other legumes are very inferior to this exotic from China and Japan? I have an impression that all these should be almost equal in value to the now famous soya bean which seems to belong to the same botanical order. And even assuming that the soya bean is richer in protein, why should we not be satisfied with our indigenous beans? You, perhaps, do not see my difficulty. You agree that for articles of diet and clothing no country should be dependent on any other. Our country was completely self-contained in both these half a century or more ago. Foreign cloth now floods our market, and foreign wheat and foreign flour and foreign milk-powder and foreign butter now threaten our independence in the matter of foodstuffs. Cannot we do without this stuff which may ultimately cost us dear?"
"I quite agree. But we have begun to grow soya beans in various parts of
the country, and there is no reason why we should not be able to produce
all the beans we need."
"I know, I know. What we regard as successful experiments are being made.
The Punjab Agricultural Reports summarizes results of the
experiments carried out on Punjab experimental farms, and they are
encouraging. The produce of what is described as Pusa white and Punjab
yellow and other varieties ranged from 9 to 12 maunds an acre, and the
report says that soya beans may easily be tried as a substitute for
cotton. I am certainly in favour of these experiments. But I want you to
realize that these experiments are made on farms where they have hardly
any regard to expenditure. I have no doubt that foreign countries can
produce these beans much cheaper than we can, and just as foreign
countries have beaten us in the export trade of ground-nuts, which is
now seriously threatened, I should not be surprised if, after soya beans
became the fashion in our country, our market were glutted with foreign
soya beans. I would, therefore, utter this note of warning for what it
may be be worth."
Our friend needs no assurance that the warning will be heeded, and that not
until the soya bean has been found a practical proposition for our
average farmer, working with his normal implements and resources, will
it be recommended by us for general acceptance.