United Refineries secures raw materials

December 16, 2021



Bulawayo based edible oil manufacturer, United Refiners Limited (URL), has secured 40% of the total raw material requirement for next year through direct contracting.

The company and its partners expect contract farmers to grow soyabean on about 10 000 hectares this year under its soya bean outgrower alliance (SOBOA) initiative.

URL chief executive officer Busisa Moyo told Business Times the critical need to ensure local production of soyabean for crushing and manufacturing cooking oil has prompted the company to grow soyabean.

“All I can say is that our network of farmers is hopeful for good rains. As URL we have secured 20-25% of soya bean requirement and 10-15% of crude soya bean oil requirements for 2022/23 through direct contracting,” Moyo said.

“We aim to grow our soya bean outgrowers’ alliance programmes so that 50%-60% soya bean requirements and 25-35% of our crude soya bean oil requirements are from local oilseeds over the next three years as we localise raw material production and domesticate our value chains.”

He said collective farming schemes and individual farmers can benefit under the programme.

Soya-bean oil and its fractions are one of Zimbabwe’s major imports, having chewed US$128m in 2020 and the figure is likely to be higher this year.

Zimbabwe gets most of its soyabean from South Africa with a significant portion of raw materials coming  from Argentina, Mauritius, Brazil,Korea,Zambia, and China.

According to Moyo, this year’s level of response to the SOBOA initiative by the farming community has been encouraging.

The SOBOA scheme is running and is now  close to the 5000 hectares mark, through farmers that are supporting  the soyabean growers’ network.

Moyo hopes to get to 10 000 hectares by the end of this month if the rains come through this week.

This will be the first time the alliance has been able to put this programme to farmers at this big scale.

If the alliance is able to produce over 40 000 of soyabean the demand for imported crude degummed soya bean oil will shrink and the amount of foreign currency required will decrease.

SOBOA is a United Refineries Limited initiative where the Bulawayo based firm works with multi-sectoral partners to boost soya bean production in Zimbabwe.

The initiative started in 2018 when the United Refineries Limited combined forces with Zimbabwe Agriculture Development Trust, Agribank, CBZ Bank, ZB and FBC to boost soyabean production.

But the alliance could not get the desired results.

Zimbabwe harvested close to 72 000 tonnes in the 2020/ 21 soyabean production from a national hectarage of 46 158. Zimbabwe still imports huge quantities of soya beans, due to low levels of production.

Zimbabwe requires up to 400 000 tonnes of soyabeans per year for cooking oil production to attain self-sufficiency, which translates to at least 350 000 hectares of land for cultivation.

Stockfeed alone consumes about 240 000 tonnes of soyabean per year.

Hence around 400 000 hectares of  land is needed or the country has to up  its yield per hectare.


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