Soya bean production is expected to reach 140 000 tonnes this year, a 9% increase from 129 000 tonnes achieved last year, on the back of increased hectarage, the Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development minister, Anxious Masuka has said.
This is against a national demand of about 450 000 tonnes. To plug the gap, local edible oil companies are forced to import huge amounts of crude oil, a critical raw material from soya bean used to manufacture cooking oil.
“This year soya bean hectarage increased by 9% to 55 944 hectares from 51488 hectares planted last year. From this hectarage we are expecting an average of 2.5 tonnes per hectare, [which translates to 140 000 tonnes],” Masuka said.
Cooking oil companies also import soya bean from South Africa with a significant portion of raw materials coming from Argentina, Mauritius, Brazil, Korea, Zambia, and China.
Stock feed alone consumes about 240 000 tonnes of soya bean per year.
The crop is a delicate crop which normally needs red soils and needs specialists to achieve the national requirement.
The Food Crop Contractors Association of Zimbabwe, of which cooking oil companies such as United Refineries and Pure Oil Industries are members, has planted over 21 000 hectares for soya bean production.
The development comes as the government is pushing for the growing of other oilseed crops to reduce the over reliance on soya bean.
“While we want to improve on soya bean growing, we have also upped the sunflower hectarage by 209% to 140 940 hectares this year from 45 586 hectares, sesame hectarage increased 58% to 27537 from 17 452 hectares and grounds 27% to 331 262 hectares from 261 758 hectares,” Masuka said.