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Walter Nyamukondiwa Mashonaland West Bureau
Government has mobilised funding to roll out massive production of oilseed crops to meet local oil needs within four years, President Mnangagwa has said.
The major project will see thousands of hectares being cleared in Matabeleland South, Save Valley and the Zambezi Valley, including Kanyemba and Binga.
This comes as Government is working systematically to reduce importation of some raw materials and grain through programmes such as Command Agriculture.
Addressing thousands of people at a “Thank You Rally” at Murombedzi Growth Point in Zvimba on Saturday, the President said Government was working on the modalities of rolling out the programme.
“We have a programme which we want to roll out in Muzarabani, Kanyemba, Binga, Matabeleland South, Sabi Valley and in Maranda,” he said.
“We have mobilised funding to open up tens, if not hundreds of thousands of hectares of land in response to cooking oil shortages. We ask why there are cooking oil shortages and we are told foreign currency constraints.
“Those who produce cooking oil always queue at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe for foreign currency, but raw materials can be found locally if we produce enough soyabeans, groundnuts and sunflowers.”
President Mnangagwa said the crops could be produced to meet local demand for cooking oil.
He said in the event that local producers produce excess quantities, these can always be exported.
Zimbabwe has experienced cooking oil shortages which have resulted in Government allowing the importation of the commodity.
President Mnangagwa said the Zambezi Valley was found to be ideal for growing the crops as there were swathes of virgin land and abundant water supplies from the Zambezi River.
“We sent people to Kanyemba and they found that the Zambezi Valley is so vast and flat,” he said.
“There is water in the Zambezi River. All the places I have alluded to have water, so we have mobilised funding to clear land.
“We have mobilised substantial amounts to grow the crops that are needed, including soyabeans, cotton, sunflower and groundnuts.
“According to our programme, we want to ensure that in three or four seasons we will be self-sufficient.”
Turning to the fuel situation in the country, President Mnangagwa reaffirmed the discovery of oil reserves in the Zambezi Valley, saying sceptics would soon eat humble pie.
He questioned why some people were averse to anything good coming out of the country and fixated on negativity.
“I was aware together with my deputy (Vice President Chiwenga) that we had oil in the country,” said President Mnangagwa.
“Asi sevanhu vane discipline tanga takangonyarara. Kudzamara toona company yekuAustralia yauya yoga, hatina kuikumbira, zvikanzi tapedza first phase yeexploration and we have tested the results everywhere, including in America, showing that we have something underground.
“Zvikanzi tati tikuudzei tisati tataura kuAustralia tati tikuudzei imi veHurumende yeZimbabwe two days before nekuti hazvikodzere kuti titaure kuAustralia tisati tataura kuno nekuti asset ndeyenyu.”
The announcement, President Mnangagwa said, torched a storm from some sceptics.
“Ndokubva taannouncer, haa chirega uone,” he said.
“Vane mashavi ehurombe kwanzi inhema, inhema, inhema. Kutoti munazvo, kwai hatina. Kuramba kuvanazvo.
“Saka vasingade oil yedu musatenga kana totengesa mongoendawo kunotenga yenyu yamunoda kumwe, yedu totenga zvedu tichingofamba neyedu,” he said, drawing laughter from the gathering.
The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces said people should not panic as the country had enough capacity to provide constant supplies of fuel, barring occasional distribution bottlenecks.
“Petrol shortages do not imply dwindling finances,” he said. “People are now hoarding fuel in anticipation of shortages, but we have doubled volumes because of high demand.
“We have doubled fuel purchases, so people should not hoard fuel and store it at home. We do not want tragedy to strike families. It’s counter-productive to keep a flammable liquid in the house. On our part we have enough financial supplies to guarantee supplies.”
President Mnangagwa said hoarding for speculative reasons in anticipation of price increases could result in losses, the same way illegal foreign currency traders woke up to find rates had tumbled.
He bemoaned recent road accidents that claims several lives and called on drivers to adhere to road regulations and value the sanctity of life. He urged farmers to produce on the farms, adding that some people could soon lose land as preliminary indications from the ongoing land audit showed multiple ownership by some top officials.
Such people, he said, would lose excess land allocated under names of spouses, children and other relatives.