Govt to pri­ori­tise soya bean pro­duc­tion: VP Mnan­gagwa

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle -

THE cook­ing oil man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try in Zim­babwe is now able to pro­duce enough to meet lo­cal de­mand but is be­ing con­strained by short­ages of raw ma­te­ri­als.

As such the Gov­ern­ment is con­sid­er­ing in­clud­ing soya bean among crops whose pro­duc­tion it will be sup­port­ing through var­i­ous ini­tia­tives, Vice Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa said last week.

He said this af­ter tour­ing two lo­cal cook­ing oil pro­duc­ers, Sur­face Wil­mar and Pure Oil In­dus­tries, to get an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the op­er­a­tions of the in­dus­try and the con­straints they were fac­ing.

Of­fi­cials at the com­pa­nies said they had in­creased pro­duc­tion af­ter the Gov­ern­ment re­stricted im­por­ta­tion of cook­ing oil but were be­ing con­strained by short­age of soya bean and cot­ton seed, which are used to pro­duce the com­mod­ity and other by-prod­ucts.

As a re­sult, Pure Oil for ex­am­ple, was im­port­ing at least 50 per­cent of its raw ma­te­ri­als, which could be eas­ily pro­duced lo­cally. Zim­babwe re­quires at least 12 mil­lion litres of cook­ing oil per month.

VP Mnan­gagwa told jour­nal­ists af­ter the tour that the Gov­ern­ment would also con­sider pri­ori­tis­ing soya bean pro­duc­tion as well as im­prove farmer aware­ness on the need to take up pro­duc­tion of the crop.

“Be­cause of this ex­po­sure we can also take soya bean on board and have a pro­gramme (to sup­port its pro­duc­tion). We’ve asked the Min­istry of In­dus­try and Com­merce to give us sta­tis­tics on how much soya bean is re­quired in the oil in­dus­try in Zim­babwe,” he said.

“When quan­ti­fied, we should then be able to say how much soya bean is pro­duced per hectare, then we know how many hectares must be put to soya bean pro­duc­tion, and we sup­port the pro­gramme. At the end of per­haps three or four sea­sons, we should have ad­e­quate pro­duc­tion of soya bean.”

He said lo­cal farm­ers were not aware of the im­por­tance of grow­ing soya bean and that it had a ready mar­ket. The Gov­ern­ment re­cently adopted a com­mand agri­cul­ture scheme to boost maize pro­duc­tion and the VP said a sim­i­lar scheme could be adopted for soya bean pro­duc­tion.

“There are com­pa­nies that are ready to move with the Gov­ern­ment pro­gramme and have lo­cal pro­duc­tion grow and there­fore we’re go­ing to bring the sub­ject of soya bean to our com­mit­tee for na­tional food pro­duc­tion and se­cu­rity,” he said.

VP Mnan­gagwa also lauded the Min­istry of In­dus­try and Com­merce for mak­ing “cor­rect rec­om­men­da­tions” to the Gov­ern­ment on re­strict­ing im­ports of cook­ing oil through Statu­tory In­stru­ment 64 of 2016, which came into ef­fect at the begin­ning of July this year.

“It (the tour) has shown that our Min­istry of In­dus­try and Com­merce made cor­rect rec­om­men­da­tions to the Gov­ern­ment through SI 64 be­cause as a re­sult of that, we’re now pro­duc­ing cook­ing oil in Zim­babwe and I’m ad­vised that we’ve do­mes­tic sup­plies be­ing pro­duced lo­cally and this has re­duced our im­port bill,” he said.

Of­fi­cials from the two com­pa­nies also en­cour­aged the Gov­ern­ment to con­sider pro­pos­als by in­dus­try to sup­port cor­po­rate farm­ing ini­tia­tives to boost agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion. Na­tional Foods chief ex­ec­u­tive Mr Michael Lash­brook said his firm was in­vest­ing over $8 mil­lion an­nu­ally in con­tract farm­ing for its raw ma­te­ri­als.

“We’ve the ap­petite to in­vest more given the right en­vi­ron­ment,” he said.

Sur­face Wil­mar chief ex­ec­u­tive Mr Slyvester Man­gani said his firm was ex­plor­ing op­tions to sup­port soya bean pro­duc­tion on 1 500 hectares of land in Karoi and Bin­dura.

“Sur­face is also sup­port­ing farm­ers by of­fer­ing to buy all soya bean avail­able and pay­ing prices con­sis­tently above the im­port par­ity price,” he said. — New Ziana

VP Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa

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