ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe is experiencing  notable success in its import substitution drive, with oil seed grain and product imports showing a 28% decline, according to statistics released by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStats).

The positive trend is attributed to increased soya bean and seed cotton production in the past year, coupled with a softening of prices on the international market.

In the first ten months of 2022, oil seed grain and product imports amounted to US$377.9 million whereas in the same period this year, the figure has dropped to US$271.3 million.

The volume of imports also decreased by 5%, from 260,881,159 to 248,679,384 kilograms. The average import cost per kilogram witnessed a 25% decline, from US$1.45 to US$1.09.

The product categories included in the oil seed grain and products imports are cooking oil, oil seed cake/meal, oil seed grains, vegetable and animal fats, and margarine. Notably, the country has saved US$106.7 million due to this development.

Busisa Moyo, Chairman of the Oil Expressers Association of Zimbabwe, highlighted the combined impact of increased soya bean and seed cotton production and lower international prices on crude oil.

 He mentioned that nearly 100,000 tonnes of soya beans were produced last year, translating to significant crude oil production, saving the country a considerable amount in foreign currency.

“We have also seen a drop (softening) of global crude soya bean oil prices of about 30 percent from US$2,000 per tonne in 2021 when the Russia-Ukraine conflict began to the current prices of between US$1,300 and US$1,400 per tonne,” he explained.

“This reduces the amount we have to outlay for import of soft edible oils.”

The optimistic outlook is that crude oil prices will remain at current levels or slightly drop, especially if harvests improve in major producers like Argentina and Brazil.

Moyo added that members of the association are set to increase soya bean production in the upcoming season.

In response to the positive developments, the Livestock and Meat Advisory Council (LMAC) is engaging with the government to lift import quotas for wheat and maize bran and soya bean meal to stabilize domestic production of feeds and prices of broiler and pork meat.

Designating cotton and sunflower as key policy crops, the government aims to transform rural communities for agricultural growth, leading to rural industrialization and development.

For the 2023/24 agriculture season, the government has set targets for soya bean production on 60,000 hectares, sunflower on 160,000 hectares, and cotton on 270,000 hectares.

As Zimbabwe continues its efforts towards import substitution, the success in the oil seed sector is seen as a positive step towards achieving broader economic resilience and self-sufficiency.

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