Farmers demand higher soya bean prices

RUTENDO RORI

Farmers are demanding higher soya beans prices to offset increasing production costs and to make the crop attractive to growers, Business Times can report.

In its latest bulletin, the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) said the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) should pay ZWL$64,000 per tonne from the current ZWL$48,000 per tonne.

Failure to review upward the price of soya beans, CFU said, the country could plunge into a crippling shortage of the crop as farmers were contemplating dumping the crop as it is no longer attractive to the farmers.

“With soya beans the turnaround is much quicker. There is definitely going to be a shortage of soya beans this year, which could have been caused by several factors. Firstly, whilst the maize price had been pegged high to make it attractive to growers, the same cannot be said for soya beans,” reads part of the bulletin.

“In order for soya beans to be an attractive crop to grow the price needs to be at least double the maize price. The GMB price for soya beans is nowhere near that and is considerably lower than the current import parity price.”

The price of maize is currently pegged at ZWL$32,000 per tonne. CFU also said the newly -introduced Statutory Instrument 97 controlling the sale of soya beans has literally affected many farmers, who were able to sell the crop to the highest bidder.

Farmers are now forced to sell the crop to GMB.

“Without the desired security of tenure such as collateral, the only available sources of finance to farmers often tie them to a set purchase price, which is also often less than the market price.

“With the recently introduced restriction on imports there are already press reports of a nationwide cooking oil shortage in the near future. 

“Without the lack of proper forethought and planning, price controls and lack of bankable tenure are definitely a double-edged sword,” CFU said.

Soya beans can now only be sold to the GMB or a licensed contractor.

In terms of the law, anyone found in violation of the new trade regulations faces a fine three times the value side marketed and possible jail term of up to two years if they are convicted.

According to the findings of the first round of the Livestock and Crop assessment conducted by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, soya beans hectarage was 136% up to 79 359 hectares during 2020/21 summer cropping season from 33 599 hectares planted in the prior season.

Output for soya beans in April this year, which is one of the critical raw materials for the local oil companies, was estimated to be 71 000 metric tonnes, a 78% increase from 40 000 metric tonnes in 2020.

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