The canning industry in Zimbabwe is set for a rebound after the introduction of demand-driven bean cultivar needed for production of canned beans, an official has said.
BY FREEMAN MAKOPA
Department of Research and Specialist Services director Dumisani Kutywayo said the release of the new variety was a result of demand from local processors.
“We have released this variety because of the demand from local processors who have been importing 60% of the grain from countries such as Ethiopia, South Africa, Zambia and Malawi to meet the canning volume requirements,” he said.
“Previously, Zimbabwe did not have a canning bean variety. Farmers have been growing Ex-rico, a cultivar which was introduced, but never commercially released in Zimbabwe. These challenges have resulted in a significant cut down on area under Ex-rico production, forcing processors to import canning grain.”
Kutywayo said the sector has been importing 100 metric tonnes monthly at a cost of $120 000, a situation which led to increased production costs to processors. This pushed up the price of canned beans.
“Prices of canned beans have risen in the past months to $1,90 because of shortages. For instance, there was a shortage of foreign currency to import navy bean. So with this new variety, it means we will no longer import raw materials and it automatically means the cost of canned beans will be reduced,” said Kutywayo.
Local processors Cairns, Selby and Olivine were operating at 50% capacity. The fact that Ex-rico was never commercially released in Zimbabwe meant there was no formal seed system to support its supply. Seed was solely retained and exchanged among farmers. As a result, the cultivar has deteriorated in quality due to susceptibility to diseases, leading to low productivity although it is still found in some parts of Zimbabwe owing to lack of viable alternative options.
According to the statistics gathered by the department, Cairns requires 80 metric tonnes per month while Selby’s demand stands at 70 tonnes.