The soybean is economically the most important bean in the world, providing vegetable protein for millions of people and ingredients for hundreds of chemical products.

The origins of the soybean plant are obscure, but many botanists believe it was first domesticated in central China as early as 7000 BCE. An ancient crop, the soybean has been used in China, Japan, and Korea for thousands of years as a food and a component of medicines. Soybeans were introduced into the United States in 1804 and became particularly important in the South and Midwest in the mid-20th century. Brazil and Argentina are also major producers.

In the recent past, Soybean cultivation has increased many folds as compared to any other oil seed crop in the country and stands next to Groundnut, though commercial production of Soybean began in 1971-72. Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan accounted for 56 percent, 35 percent and 5 percent production respectively during the year 2002-03 covering an area of 67 percent, 21 percent and 8 percent in India.