ZIMBABWE – The Oil Expressers Association of Zimbabwe (OEAZ), an oil producer’s lobby group, has called for increase output of soybean as an intervention to cut reliance on imports.

A report by NewsDay reveals that Zimbabwe’s soyabean local demand stands at 400 000 metric tonnes annually against its current production capacity of around 60 000 metric tonnes.

According to OEAZ chairman, Busisa Moyo, its members require a total of US$225.5 million annually to import raw materials such as soyabeans, crude oil, palm fatty acid, chemicals and consumables.

Moyo has hence called for increased local production to support the local industry which is subsequently to benefit from locally sourced raw materials.

“The economy (is) not equipped to locally produce enough oilseeds for the production of cooking oil.

Imports require foreign currency and this area represents the greatest attention from the Ministry of Industry to ensure the country does not run out of cooking oil at any point in time,” Moyo said.

During the 2017/18 agricultural farming season, Zimbabwe only managed to produce 60 000mt of soyabeans, the lowest compared to its southern Africa counterparts such as South Africa producing 1 450 000mt, Zambia 320 000mt and Malawi 120 000mt.

This has resulted into oil expressers operating at a 15% of the installed capacity despite having a 400 000mt annual production capacity.

“As oil expressers, we are organised and stand ready to buy and consume all soyabean that will be produced locally from programmes like command agriculture.

Some of our members have also gone into direct capacitation of local farmers through provision of inputs and agronomy services-contract farming, for example, Pure Oil Industries (Zimgold cooking Oil),” Moyo said.

He added that members had also entered into soyabean farming alliances and partnerships to support local farmers.

“Some of our members are also ready to engage in direct/corporate farming should they be given access to land,” he said.

For instance, Pure Oil Industries (Pvt) Ltd, which manufactures ZimGold cooking oil, has invested US$6 million in new projects as it seeks to consolidate its grip on the local market in the wake of growing local demand.

However, Moyo said that oil expressers had not received any foreign currency allocation since 2017, despite being issued with letters of credit by various banks on an individual basis.