OIL Expressers Association of Zimbabwe (OEAZ) has blamed the cooking oil shortages on delays in turnaround time from paying suppliers to getting the crude oil into the country, saying the situation would improve in two weeks’ time.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
OEAZ president Busisa Moyo told NewsDay yesterday in a telephone interview that manufacturers required 14 days to make payments, receive the raw materials and put the products on the shelves.
“From payment, we are allocated products by crude oil suppliers based in South Africa there is a turnaround period, so you do not just pay today and tomorrow you refine it and it is in the bottle, you know, there are logistics and time,” Moyo said.
The Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers recently threatened cooking oil processors to up their game and produce more cooking oil that meets demand, lest retailers would be forced to apply for import permits.
But Moyo said discussions are in place with retailers on how turnaround time can be cut, adding that the shortages are expected to end in two weeks. Oil expressers and retailers are expected to issue a joint statement on the cooking oil situation by the end of the week.
“We are in discussions with the retailers and have come to an understanding, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and Ministry of Finance is supportive so we are all working together to improve the situation,” Moyo said.
He said RBZ has been allocating forex and has opened credit lines, so it was just a matter of logistics to get crude oil and soya beans from the suppliers in Zambia, Malawi and Durban in South Africa.
“Oil expressers also had a backlog of payments to catch up before receiving fresh supplies. Foreign suppliers are also now jittery on giving terms which have been in place,” Moyo said.
The government has started talks on getting cooking oil producers to procure raw materials locally which would be dependent on increasing soya bean yields, as it provides the oil needed to produce cooking oil.
Zimbabwe already produces an average of 30 000 tonnes of soya beans annually, which is mainly used by cooking oil companies, against an annual demand of about 300 000 tonnes.
Moyo said that the whole soya value chain needed reconstruction, from soya growers and stock feed manufacturers to get cooking oil producers to a point of self-reliance.
“We need to grow 200 000mt of soya beans annually. This will take four to five years to reach given farmer education and infrastructure requirements for a successful and cost-effective programme. This produces 150 000mt of soya meal for the local stock feed industry which supports the poultry and piggery industry,” he said.
He said the RBZ has been allocating an average of $2,5 million plus credit lines supported by the central bank.