ZIMBABWE – Surface Wilmar, one of the leading edible oil manufacturer in Zimbabwe, has resumed operations after receiving foreign currency support from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to kick-start operations.

The manufacturer of Pure Drop and Olivine cooking oil brands was forced to stop operations in January this year citing challenges in foreign currency shortages just a year after it acquired the country’s oldest cooking manufacturer, Olivine Industries.

Mr Sylvester Mangani, chief executive officer Surface Wilmar, said the funding availed had seen the company resuming operations, although more funding was required to reach full production reports The Herald.

“We had stopped production because of the foreign currency challenges but our commitment to Zimbabwe never changed.

“We remain firmly committed to Zimbabwe and it is our belief that we will remain the biggest cooking oil manufacturer,” said Mr Mangani.

Mr Mangani had cited challenges in accessing critical raw materials such as soya beans, crude soya bean oil and palm fats to service the industry.

Founded in 2006, Surface Wilmar is a joint venture between the Singapore head-quartered agribusiness group, Wilmar and Midex Global of India.

According to Mr Mangani, the company was around for the long haul and remained one of the biggest employers in the cooking oil industry.

The cooking oil producer runs two commercial manufacturing plants using soyabean and cotton seeds as the main raw material in the production of edible oils, margarines, soaps and other by-products.

Cooking oil producers in the country have been struggling with about US$100 million external payments debts following recent foreign currency shortages that had continued to affect their operations.

Zimbabwe currently requires an estimated US$250 million for importation of crude oil and soya bean imports annually, which translates to a monthly budget of US$20 million for the entire industry.

According to Zimbabwe Oil Expressers Association, processors require about 350 000 tonnes of oil seed to produce two million litres of cooking oil and to have their factories run at full capacity.

The oil expressers’ association is also seeking US$210 million in the market to finance soya bean production in the 2019/2020 farming season in a bid to assist the country to cut the import bill.