Oil seed crops now under Command Agriculture

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Vice President Chiwenga

HARARE – Government will from this season include oil seed crops under Command Agriculture and come up with a lucrative price for soyabeans as part of strategies to boost production.

This will help to ensure that the local processing industry has adequate raw materials to boost production capacity.

This came out during a tour of cooking oil manufacturer Surface Wilmar’s Plant in Chitungwiza last week.

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga toured the plant accompanied by Minister of Finance and Economic Development Patrick Chinamasa, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development Mike Bimha and Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Chief Air Marshal Perrance Shiri (Rtd), deputy chief secretary in the office of the President and Cabinet, Justice Mpamhanga and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe director for financial Markets, Mr Azvinandava Saburi.

Surface Wilmar chairman Norattam Somani raised the issue of shortage of raw materials which he said were affecting the company’s production.

“We are operating below capacity due to shortage of raw materials and foreign currency,” he said.

Mr Somani attributed the decline in soyabeans production to the high producer price offered to maize. Maize is sold at $390 per tonne, a price which was put in place by Government to promote production of grain and also cushion farmers from high costs of production.

“We require 165 000 tonnes of soyabeans but could not get the required amount as soyabean production had dropped over some years from around 300 000 tonnes to 30 000 tonnes per year,” he said.

In response, VP Chiwenga said starting 2018/19 season, crops such as soyabeans, sunflower and cotton would be included under Command Agriculture.

“This time around soyabeans was produced by A2 farmers but we would want our 1, 8 million small scale farmers to come to this programme and produce soyabeans. We are now generally agreed that our rural farmers and our A1 farmers will also be encouraged to grow the crops in suitable areas. Even if they produce an acre or half acre we have no problem with that as long as the crop is produced well. So if we collect all that, we will have excess of what we want.

“I agree with you (Surface Wilmar) that it is a not wise for us to import crude oil we need to produce for ourselves. We have got the land and the expertise,” he said.

VP Chiwenga also encouraged the processing companies to also assist farmers by funding production of the crops so that they have access raw materials.

“Together we can produce the crop and what we will now be aiming at is to export and not to import. His Excellency the President has already made it clear that by 2030, Zimbabwe should be a middle class country and it’s a very ambitious programme but we are going to have it,” he said.

Minister Chinamasa said Government had taken a decision to increase the price of soyabeans to around $700 per tonne.

“The final price which will be announced soon is not market driven but is addressing viability of farmers. We will sell the soyabeans to oil expressors at a price of the import parity. The price will be a cost of Government.

“This is a temporary strategy to promote the production of soyabeans and we will put in place measures to ensure people do not import cheap soyabeans and deliver to the Grain Marketing Board,” he said.

Minister Bimha said while the price appeared unsustainable it was a deliberate measure to be considered while considering other permanent measures.

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