Oliver Kazunga/Kiyapili Sibanda, Business Reporters
THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) says agro-processing industries in Zimbabwe are set for a major boost driven by anticipated good yields from the 2016/17 agricultural season.
CZI president Mr Busisa Moyo who is the chief executive officer of United Refineries Limited said improved yields form a solid foundation for industry growth.
In an interview on the sidelines of an economic seminar for high schools that was held in Bulawayo last Friday, he said prospects look good for the economy this year.
“We are obviously looking forward to a better year because of the good agricultural season the country has experienced this time around. Manufacturing sector capacity utilisation will increase. And with a better agricultural season, the agro-processing sector will have less complications with supply of inputs,” said Mr Moyo.
As part of efforts to achieve food security, the Government has introduced the Command Agriculture programme, which has a target of producing two million tonnes of maize from 400 000 hectares of land.
In 2015, capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector closed the year at 34,4 percent and picked up 13 points to close 2016 at 47 percent. The increase was largely attributed to the implementation of Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016, which removes a chain of goods from the Open General Import Licence.
Mr Moyo said industry performance across the value chain was bound to improve significantly anchored on Command Agriculture as wheat and soya bean farming has also been prioritised under the programme.
In recent years, due to successive years of droughts, Zimbabwe has been dependent on importing raw materials such as soya beans required in the manufacturing of products of soap and cooking oil.
In a related issue Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) president, Mr Denford Mutashu says the enforcement of SI 64 of 2016 is producing positive results for the local manufacturing sector, which helps preserve jobs. He urged companies to utilise the import restriction window to retool and increase their capacity utilisation so as to export.
As a result of SI 64, Mr Mutashu said the retail sector was now sourcing 75 percent of its goods locally with prices remaining stable and affordable to many.
He also acknowledged the growth of small to medium enterprises saying this was a boost for the economy.
“Prophets of doom that have predicted a bleak future have no place in our society. Government projects like Command Agriculture proved them wrong because it’s a success project thanks to good rains,” Mr Mutashu said.