Cooking oil producers are looking at reducing their import bill by 30% from the current US$300 million annually through imports substitution, businessdigest has learnt.
By Melody Chikono
This comes as the nation is suffering consistent shortage of raw materials for cooking oil production and stock feed and faced with a rising import bill fuelled by rising prices.
At 40 000 tonnes soya beans, the country is sitting on a 10% capacity against an installed capacity of 384 000 tonnes.
Oil Expressors Association of Zimbabwe (OEAZ) last month indicated that its targeting to increase soya beans hectarage to 120 000 within four years to avert the shortage.
OEAZ chairperson Busisa Moyo told businessdigest on the side-lines of Edible Oils Indaba last week that the association was facing a challenge owing to soyabean shortages.
He added that the association needed to come to an agreement to replace crude imports with beans in the next nine months after July.
“For the next season we said we must engage the financial institutions, banks who are sitting on large deposits which are not being deployed so that they finance more contract farmers and increase the hectarage. This is to make sure that we don’t go through the same in the next season. The loans ratio is very low for most banks,” Moyo said.
“We are importing crude oil and mill as well because we don’t have enough beans. For now we said is let’s agree that we will import beans instead of finished products, a solution which will lower the import figures. This will only start from July as we have local crop covering us only for three months up to June. Apparently our imports are in excess of US$300 million for the whole industry and we need to bring it down by 20-30 % by bringing in beans but then again it depends on prices.”
However, this may coincide with governments’ intention to stop the importation of soya beans by May 2018 on the back of Command Soya Bean Scheme introduced in the 2017 /2018 farming season to boost production.
Meanwhile, Moyo said OEAZ is also mulling to engage government to review its genetically-modified organisms (GMO) policy as it is proving expensive to imports soya beans on the available policy with bean import standing at US$300 million annually.
Zimbabwe has a no GMO policy on all imported foods as well as local produced foods.
“We really need to look at our GMO policy. We import non GMO soya which will come in smaller quantities and is expensive as well. We will engage government to relook at the GMO Policy which will in-turn lower our foreign currency demand as well as lower the prices,” he said.