Plans for Arkansas farmers to be the first in the United States to grow vegetable soybeans for large-scale commercial production of edamame moved closer to realization at a recent meeting of a leading U.S. edamame importer with farmers and University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture personnel at the Division’s Vegetable Research Station near Kibler, Ark.

Edamame — green soybeans in the pod or shelled — is a popular vegetable in Asia with rapidly growing demand in the United States. Pods or beans are steamed and served warm or cold as a side dish or snack and in salads or soups. Edamame beans are larger and have higher protein and sucrose levels than commodity soybeans.

”If we were running a 26-mile marathon, we would be in mile 25,” said Kelly Cartwright president of Agricultural Research Initiatives, Inc., an agricultural research and development and consulting company in Fayetteville. He is working with the Division of Agriculture to promote the edamame venture in the state.

Cartwright talked with a group of Arkansas farmers about the arrival of the new vegetable soybean industry set to kick off in the state next year and how this new Edemame industry will be the first large-scale commercial production of Edemame in the United States.