HE 2016/17 soya beans hectarage declined by 47 percent to 17 000 hectares from 29 730 hectares last year.
Agriculture Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made attributed the decline to the fact that farmers who traditionally grow soya beans opted to grow maize under command agriculture this season.
Soya beans production has been on the decline over the years with production declining to 47 700 tonnes last year from 57 900 tonnes in the 2014/15 season.
“The soya beans average should improve, the crop was not very popular this year due to the command agriculture programme where farmers received input support and the general reluctance by those who use the product to contract farmers,” agricultural economist Peter Gambara said.
“Since government has indicated that they will be sponsoring the growing of soya beans along with maize and cotton, there should be a big uptake next year. A lot of potential soya beans growing farms are lying idle. Besides all those farmers who grew maize on contract on the command agriculture programme will also need some crops that they can grow in rotation with the maize.”
“If they continue to grow maize, year after year, they are likely to face more outbreaks of the fall worm as well as heavier stalk borer attacks. They definitely need to rotate with a legume crop like soya beans to break the life cycles of those pests,” Gambara added.
Soya beans is used to produce a variety of high-value marketable products which include, soyabean cake (stock feed), soya milk, soya flour and soyabean oil. Most of the soya bean produced in Zimbabwe is however, primarily used in oil expression. It contributes about 30 percent of all the cooking oil production while cottonseed contributes about 50 percent.
The country has a soya bean crushing capacity of 450 000 tonnes but the industry is currently operating below 10 percent of its installed capacity.