‘Consider extracting oil from maize seed’

Deputy Minister Marapira

Deputy Minister Marapira

Business Reporter
THE Government will push local cooking oil firms to consider extracting edible oil from maize seed to reduce huge spending on soya bean imports, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development (Cropping Production) Davis Marapira has said. Zimbabwe produces an average of 30 000 tonnes of soya beans per year — which is mainly used by cooking oil companies — against annual demand of about 300 000 tonnes.

Mr Marapira told The Herald Business recently that the country used to produce cooking oil from maize seed and producers should consider that given maize production is on the rise.

“We can’t continue importing soya beans when we have enough maize and will push companies to reconsider extracting edible oil from maize,” said deputy minister Marapira. Zimbabwe spent $190 million on Command Agriculture last season, where it funded the production of over one million tonnes of maize. Farmers have already delivered 1,1 million tonnes to the Grain Marketing Board. The programme is targeting to produce three million tonnes next season, with 350 000 hectares earmarked for command agriculture. About 1,8 million families will also benefit under the Presidential scheme. Oil Expressers Association of Zimbabwe president Busisa Moyo said considerations would be made but local firms would need to invest in appropriate technology.

“Some years back, we used to produce cooking oil from maize and it can still be done. But the technology that most companies have can only do soya beans. It means companies will have to invest in appropriate technology. It also has to be done in a manner that will not compromise food security,” Mr Moyo, who is also chief executive of United Refineries, a Bulawayo based cooking oil manufacturing company said. While cooking oil companies have managed to raise capacity utilisation over the past few years, the supply of oilseeds has remained a challenge.

Soya bean is scarcely available on the local market but some cooking oil producers have started contracting local growers to increase soya bean production to cut reliance on imports. The OEAZ said the long term solution was to increase soya bean production from the current 30 000 tonnes to at least 150 000 tonnes per annum in the next three to five years. The increase in cotton production in the last cropping season has boosted output of cotton oilseeds. Cotton production is also expected to increase after Government indicated that it would invest $60 million under the Presidential Input Scheme. The Government is also looking at expanding sunflower production.

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  • mwana wacho

    Why not promote soya bean farming? Look into the huddles that hinder the farming of soya bean and find solutions. Is it technological, type of soil, climatic conditions, labour or expertise. Soya beans produce more oil per tonne than maize that is why it is favoured in oil production.

  • Analyst

    Why not push for increased soya bean production? Where is the hiccup here- we have all the land in the world for soya bean production and can easily play around with the producer prices to make soya bean production lucrative. Perhaps the skills are just not there within the new farmers to produce good quality soya beans? If that’s the case, then we should make extensive use of contract farming using all skilled manpower available. The proposal to use maize for oil production has implications for food security. People are getting carried away and forgetting that its only this year 2016-2017, that we have had a surplus in maize production for more than a decade. There is no guarantee that we are always going to be in surplus position in future. It is therefore pointless to make suggestions such as the one being made above. Besides food security aspect, i also dont think that the quality of oil would be the same as that from the real oilseeds and that costs of production would be the same or cheaper. How come countries such as South Africa never run out of cooking oil in spite of the huge demand there- what are they doing right? These are the sort of questions the honourable deputy minister should be asking himself and is being paid to do!

  • Madara

    hey, prof sanctions.. you not growing enough.

  • Sandura1

    There is a good English saying “dont judge a book by its cover”". this face looks so damn.

  • Wilson Magaya

    Shooting from the hip is good and I love that the dialogue continues. Looking at the comments on this article the dialogue suggests that the implications of expelling from maize would have a huge impact on re-equipping, which in our case is the most difficult because of Foreign currency shortages.

    On the other hand we have a model that may succeed itself out of viability, Command Agriculture which is mainly focusing on maize. We have tried and tested the model with maize, we understand that we need to tweak certain aspects such as pricing and the points of government intervention. We have validated the Business Model and we now should look at scaling it up.

    The role of Government ministries is “HYPOTHESIZING” putting in place policy to test the hypothesis and support Innovation that emerges. To Soya production, lets do as we did to maize. We know the market size and we know we need to ramp up by 10X so what are we waiting for? “Nyika Vanhu, Musha Matare” Pay attention to the people, in this case Demand for Soya bean, Get people/companies together and meet the needs….We have it in our power to do the right thing.