History of Soybeans and Soyfoods in the Caribbean / West Indies (1767-2022)

William Shurtleff, Akiko AoyagiISBN: 978-1-948436-65-6

Publication Date: 2022/01/01

Number of References in Bibliography: 788

Earliest Reference: 1767

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Brief Chronology of Soybeans in the Caribbean

1767 March – West Indies: Three dozen bottles of soy sauce, made in Savannah by Samuel Bowen, are shipped on the Harriot, week before last, to the West Indies (New York Gazette 1767 April 23, p. 3).

1807 – West Indies: In 1807 Britain abolishes the slave trade. William Layman, Captain of the Royal Navy, proposes that Asian cash crops be grown in the British West Indies to keep the many ships and seamen employed. Included in his 4-page list are: “Soy-bean – Dolichos Soja – Japan” and “Soy – China (Layman 1807, p. 46).

1903 June – Porto Rico: Soybeans are first cultivated experimentally at the Porto Rico Agricultural Experiment Station. These are also the first soybeans grown in the Caribbean (Gardner 1903, p. 423).

1904 Jan. – Caribbean: George T. Moore, a plant physiologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has developed a method for sending inoculated soybeans or inoculating soil to farmers who request it. In response to many requests, he sends (between Nov. 1902 and Nov. 1904) two packets to Cuba and one to Porto Rico (Moore 1905, p. 42-43).

1905 – Cuba: Soybeans are first grown successfully at the agronomic station at Santiago de las Vegas (Cruz 1906, p. 73-74).

1905 – Jamaica: Soybeans are first grown experimentally (Inst. International d’Agriculture 1936, p. 38-110).

1907 – The first large-scale importation of soybeans to the West (England) from Asia (China) begins, and imports steadily increase during the coming years, in part because of the high price of linseed and cottonseed oils. British oilseed crushers convert the seeds into oil and high-protein meal used in livestock feeds. As imports grow, the British government begins to test soybean cultivation in its colonies in the West Indies and Africa (Piper & Morse 1923, p. 16-17).

1907 – Antigua and Barbuda: Soybeans are first cultivated experimentally at Antigua. These are also the first soybeans grown in the Lesser Antilles (Agricultural News (Barbados), 1908 Dec. 26, p. 403).

1909 – Dominica: Soybeans are first grown successfully, at the Botanic Station (Imperial Commissioner, p. 5).

1910 – Grenada: Soybeans are first grown experimentally (Interim Report 1914, p. 1-3).

1910 – Montserrat: Soybeans are first grown on the experimental plots at the Botanic Station (Imperial Commissioner 1912, p. 15-16).

1910 – St. Kitts and Nevis: Soybeans are first grown experimentally at the Botanic Station (Imperial Commissioner 1911, p. 29).

1911 – St. Lucia: Soybeans are first grown experimentally at the Experiment Station (Imperial Commissioner 1911, p. 21-27).

1912 or before – Trinidad and Tobago: Soybeans are first grown experimentally (Imperial Commissioner 1913, p. 2).

1916 or 1917 – Bermuda: Soybeans are first grown, as a source of green manure (McCallan 1921, p. 5).

1921 Dec. – U.S. Virgin Islands: Soybeans (22 varieties) received from the U.S. are first grown experimentally (Thompson 1923, p. 3-4).

1922-1928 – Cuba and Dominican Republic: Soybean oil is exported from the United States to these two Caribbean countries (U.S. Tariff Commission, 1929, p. 283-84).

1928 Sept. 9 – Barbados: Three varieties of soya beans are planted to test their suitability as green manure (McIntosh 1930, p. 54-57).

1928 – Guadeloupe (French): Soybeans are first grown in the breeding nursery at Pointe-a-Pitre (Chenon 1930, p. 68-71).

1930 – Cuba: The earliest known commercial soy product made in the Caribbean is Excelsior Aceite de Soya (Excelsior Soy Oil), made in Cuba (Ad in Revista de Agriculture, Comercio y Trabajo (Cuba) 1930 Sept. p. 60).

1936 – Bahamas: Soybeans are first cultivated experimentally (Sampson 1936, p. 85, 201).

1936 – St. Vincent and the Grenadines: Soybeans are first cultivated experimentally (Sampson 1936, p. 85, 201).

1947 – Haiti: Soybeans are first grown successfully (Adair 1947, RSLM).

1958 – Island of Curacao (Netherlands Dependency): Soybean oil and meal are now being imported from the USA. There is no record of soybeans ever having been grown on Curacao (Soybean Digest 1958 Nov. p. 19).

1960 Oct. 19 – Almost 2 years after the Cuban Revolution had deposed the regime of Fulgencio Batista, the USA imposes an embargo on trade with Cuba except for food and medicine after Cuba nationalized the US-owned Cuban oil refineries without compensation. On February 7, 1962, the embargo was extended to include almost all exports. Every year since 1992, the United Nations General Assembly has passed a resolution demanding the end of the US economic blockade on Cuba (Wikipedia, at United States embargo against Cuba; accessed Dec. 2021).

1996 Jan. – William Shurtleff travels to Cuba (having been invited by Soy Cubano! and Global Exchange) to study the remarkable production of soymilk since support from the Soviet Bloc was cut off. In the last 2 years, the Cubans have constructed about 34 "soy dairies" inside of inactive or partially inactive cow dairies. In 1995 they made 34 million liters of soy yogurt and soy yogurt drink, which they distribute free of charge to children ages 7-14. They are now also making delicious non-dairy soy ice cream and spreadable soy cream cheese. In addition, almost all of the regular ice cream made in Cuba now contains 50% soymilk.

This remarkable story, told by Alvaro Garcia Uriarte and Alberto Ortega, appears in this book.

2000 – The U.S. Congress passes a law allowing the sale of humanitarian and agricultural products to Cuba.

2001 – ADM (Archer Daniels Midland Co.), under the leadership of president Paul B. Mulhollem, becomes first U.S. company to sign a contract with Cuba since the U.S. embargo against Cuba was imposed October 1960.

2008 – There are no significant soybean producing nations in the Caribbean. The last significant producer was Jamaica, which in 1986/87 produced 2,000 tonnes (metric tons). Only two countries are importing soybeans in market year 2008/09: Cuba is importing 180,000 tonnes and Barbados is importing 25,000 tonnes. Only these same two countries now crush soybeans: Cuba 175,000 tonnes, and Barbados 25,000 tonnes in 2008/09 (USDA Production, Supply & Distribution {PS&D} database).

Click here to download the full text to open and read book History of Soybeans and Soyfoods in the Caribbean / West Indies (1767-2022)