Government has suspended a moratorium banning the importation of soyabean into the country in an effort to ensure reliable supply of edible oil in the country, oil producers have confirmed.
Government reduced the number of permits for the import of soyabean to ensure local oil expressers buy the commodity from local farmers. However, in spite of oil producers promising a steady supply of cooking oil, the country recently faced an artificial cooking oil shortage blamed on speculative tendencies of some retailers.
Oil Expressers Association of Zimbabwe president Busisa Moyo said Government has managed to bring back the soya bean imports after the recent events. “Government has acted to bring back soyabeans import permits for all major cooking oil producers to avert potential shortages.
“We want to continue working together with Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Ministry and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to ensure an adequate supply of edible oils and stock feed is available in the country and at all times,” said Mr Moyo.
OEAZ highlighted that despite the foreign currency shortages in the country to import essential raw materials, there was no possible cooking oil shortage any time soon, given the current stocks. Oil producers therefore advised the public not to engage in panic buying, hoarding and speculative purchases, which create the impression of acute shortages and the risk of holding a perishable commodity such as edible oil as a store of value.
Mr Moyo said possible shortages in selected outlets in urban centres could be averted by immediately increasing the amount of foreign currency allocated to producers, or the extension of RBZ supported Letters of Credit to OEAZ members to allow for the importation of raw materials.
OEAZ required at least $5 million per week to import soyabean, crude edible oils and other raw materials to satisfy their requirement to meet national demand for oil and related products adequately. However, foreign currency supplies have been constrained to less than $1, 5 million per week or 30 percent of the needs.
OEAZ in a statement, however, said the input and raw material costs have escalated dramatically in the last few months, leading to price changes as local suppliers and service providers in particular have adjusted their costs upwards in light with the prevailing economic environment.
Oil producers were very keen to support Command Soyabeans in the 2017/2018 summer cropping season to increase the output to 150 000 tonnes.
The association is in the process of mobilising $100 million worth of inputs, irrigation infrastructure and 100 000 hectares to grow soyabean in the next summer season
The facility would be for contracted farmers and administered by the cooking oil manufacturers. The country’s cooking oil processors have over the years been forced to import their raw materials owing to shortage of soyabean, cotton and sunflower.
The sector at the moment imports soyabean and semi-processed crude oil for further processing. Last year, Zimbabwe imported crude soyabean oil worth $119,9 million. Government has since reviewed soya prices to around $780 per tonne. Dr Made said soyabean would be included under the Command Agriculture programme targeting areas where the crop is commonly grown. Soyabeans are predominantly grown in Hurungwe, Shamva and Chinhoyi areas.