LIVINGSTONE MARUFU/ BLESSING MADZIWANZIRA
Financial services group, CBZ Holdings, will bankroll 30 000 ha under command agriculture soyabeans growing for 2019/2020 summer cropping season as the economy moves to provide adequate cooking oil raw materials and cut the import bill.
The drive to ramp up soyabean production comes at a time when the country’s cooking oil sector is operating at 25 percent capacity due to shortages of soyabeans and foreign currency to import the crude oil.
Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement deputy minister Vangelis Haritatos told Business Times that Zimbabwe has to ramp up production to cut the import bill which is eating into elusive foreign currency export earnings.
“CBZ has come on board specifically to finance 30 000 hectares of soyabeans under the Command Agriculture where we want to increase production and reduced the import bill we spend on buying edible oil raw materials for the production of cooking oil. Since soyabeans falls under Command Agriculture we would like the farmers to start preparing now for the soyabeans growing and we hope to give them inputs in the next few weeks for them to plant by November 15,” Haritatos said.
Agriculture experts say soyabeans is a delicate crop that needs to be planted early so that a farmer can realise the potential of the leguminous crop.
While the exact figures are not yet clear, CBZ is expected to fork out close to ZWL$800 million on the funding of the leguminous crop.
Government is hoping the oil expressers can come in with over 15 000 hectares as they move to increase capacity utilisation which has gone as far as 96 percent in 2016.
Oil Expressers Association of Zimbabwe (OEAZ) is in the market seeking for funding for soyabean production to grow the crop in the 2019/2020 summer cropping season.
OEAZ president Busisa Moyo told this publication that oil producers are at an advanced stage to start distributing soyabean inputs for the 2019/2020 summer season.
“So far we have inputs for over 7500 hectares with other inputs expected in the coming months,” Moyo said.
Over the past two years, oil expressers have been relying on revolving Afreximbank letters of credit for them to continue producing.
Despite the support from the central bank, oil expressers have been operating at 25 percent capacity if the localised production is increased the capacity utilisation will go up.
Government has been spending an average of $20 million per month in the importation of soya for the manufacture of cooking oil.
Zimbabwe needs 300 000 tonnes of soya bean annually for food, feed and other industrial needs but output is currently averaging 50 000 tonnes, which is far too short of requirements.