Oil Expressers Association of Zimbabwe (OEAZ) is targeting to increase soya beans hectarage to 120 000 within four years to avert a shortage of the most critical ingredient in cooking oil making.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
OEAZ chairman, Busisa Moyo, told NewsDay in emailed responses that beginning this year the sector would be working on improving soya bean supply, among other programmes.
“We will be working on supplying the country with edible oils and stock feeds. (We will be also working on) increasing the hectarage for soya beans to get closer to the 120 000 hectares under soya in four to five years’ time, working with farmers and extension officers to raise yields from the current 0,8 metric tonnes (mt) per hectare to at least 2mt per hectare for smallholder farmers,” Moyo said.
The current soya bean hectarage is between 12 000 and 15 000 and producers require about 20 000mt per month, he said.
According to Moyo everything was imported for nine months of the year as “our own Zimbabwean farm production only covers three months of crushing by the oil expressers.”
Zimbabwe’s cooking oil manufacturers have over the years been forced to import their raw materials, owing to shortage of soya beans, cotton and sunflower. The sector is currently importing soya bean and semi-processed crude oil for further processing.
Moyo said the association would also work on giving customers competitive producer prices to encourage future planting, as well as raise capacity and lower costs, so that “we can balance between local demand and exports, as we seek to generate forex and not be over-dependent on other sectors.”
They are also targeting to increase soya production and expand the command soya bean programme.
“To rebuild the whole value chain from seed producing companies to eggs and white meats like chicken, pork and fish which rely on soya bean processing for stockfeeds,” he said.
He said government has adopted soya bean into command agriculture and they would be seeing the baseline impact and tonnages produced in the next 90-120 days and then mapping out with Ministry of Agriculture, Reserve Bank and Industry a five-year plan based on the value chain study.
Moyo said the sector needed collaboration from all players concerned to grow.
“It’s not about government its financiers, seed producing companies, farmers, oil expressers, stockfeed manufacturers, livestock and animal husbandry farmers and agronomists all coming together to rebuild the value chain to produce 240 000mt of soya beans per year,” he said.