Low soya bean prices hit farmers hard

TINASHE MAKICHI

 

Zimbabwe’s soya beans farmers have been hit the hardest by the low producer prices, a move which is now   threatening the sub-sector, Business Times can report.

Currently, the price of soya beans, which is a critical raw material in the production of cooking oil, is pegged at ZWL$42 000 per tonne.

Farmers say this was too low and is directly affecting the sub-sector.

Worsening the situation was the recent introduction of the Statutory Instrument 97 of 2021 that regulates the marketing of soya beans.

Commercial Farmers Union president Andy Pascoe told Business Times that there was a need for the government to review the price of soya beans as most farmers were likely to quit soya beans production.

“…The problem is around the pricing. The pricing is the biggest issue and the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) needs to set the price that is competitive. The issue of pricing needs to be addressed otherwise we are likely going to see farmers quitting or side marketing issues,” Pascoe said.

A cooking oil manufacturer who requested anonymity told Business Times that this piece of legislation was going to have a detrimental effect on the local production of soya beans when cooking oil manufacturers are looking at ways to cut the crude oil import bill.

The manufacturer further noted that there was a need for a review of the current soya beans producer price to motivate farmers into producing this coming season.

The soya bean value chain is one of the most strategic and profitable agricultural value chains locally and globally.

“Most of our farmers were affected SI 97 of 2021 it affected our farmers in terms and discouraged farmers to get into farming. They were getting paid around ZWL$42 000 (a tonne). The forex auction has not been effective in terms of securing raw materials at a time when local production is under threat,” the manufacturer said.

The regulations forbid the use or disposal of soya beans acquired through the GMB as seed except with written permission from the parastatal.

Soya beans are currently in short supply, forcing the country to spend tens of millions of dollars in foreign currency annually to import crude for cooking oil manufacturing.

According to the legislation, contract farmers are permitted to keep or transport not more than two bags of soya beans of a capacity not exceeding 50 kg per bag from one area of the country to the other without any authorisation from the GMB.

Commercial farmers used to produce 90% of the crop and the small-scale farmers produced the remainder.

But, in the past 10 years, Zimbabwe has produced an average of 56 000 metric tonnes (mt) of soya beans per year against national demand of 240 000 mt for food, animal feed, and industrial consumption.

 

 

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