OIL Expressers Association of Zimbabwe (OEAZ) says the country’s soyabean production needs urgent support so as increase output and cut reliance on imports.
Zimbabwe requires at least 400 000 metric tonnes of soyabean annually, but the country produces a paltry 60 000 matric tonnes.
OEAZ chairman Busisa Moyo told delegates at a business meeting held recently in Bulawayo that its members required a total of US$225,5 million annually to import raw materials such as soyabeans, crude oil, palm fatty acid, chemicals and consumables.
“The economy (is) not equipped to locally produce enough oilseeds for the production of cooking oil. Imports require foreign currency and this area represents the greatest attention from the Ministry of Industry to ensure the country does not run out of cooking oil at any point in time,” Moyo said.
Moyo recently told NewsDay that oil expressers had not received any foreign currency allocation since 2017, but have been issued with letters of credit by various banks on an individual basis.
During the 2017/18 agricultural farming season, Zimbabwe only managed to produce 60 000mt of soyabeans. Comparably, other countries in the region such as South Africa produced 1 450 000mt, Zambia 320 000mt and Malawi 120 000mt.
Oil expressers have 400 000mt of production capacity per year, but are only operating at 15% of the installed capacity.
“As oil expressers, we are organised and stand ready to buy and consume all soyabean that will be produced locally from programmes like command agriculture. Some of our members have also gone into direct capacitation of local farmers through provision of inputs and agronomy services-contract farming, for example, Pure Oil Industries (Zimgold cooking Oil),” Moyo said.
He added that members had also entered into soyabean farming alliances and partnerships to support local farmers.
“Some of our members are also ready to engage in direct/corporate farming should they be given access to land,” he said.