Land under Soya bean production is likely to be increased as Government plans to incorporate its cultivation under the Command Agriculture starting from the 2018-2019 season.
The development would have a huge bearing on the country’s import bill on cooking oil raw materials.
Official statistics indicate that Zimbabwe is losing about $200 million through soya beans imports per year with at least $5 million required weekly to import soya beans, crude edible oils and other raw materials to meet the national demand for cooking oil and other related products.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said small-scale farmers where targeted fort the programme.
“This time around, soya beans was produced by A2 farmers, but we would want our 1,8 million small-scale farmers to come to this programme and produce soya beans,” Chiwenga disclosed during a tour of Surface Wilmar’s plant in Chitungwiza on 11 April.
Chiwegwa said rural farmers in suitable areas will be encouraged to grow venture in to soya bean production “ even if they produce an acre or half acre, we have no problem with that, as long as the crop is produced well” he was quoted saying.
Soya beans is a critical raw material in the production of edible oil, to help meet about 300 000 tonnes of the seed required by the domestic market annually.
However, it’ production of soya bean has been on the decline in the past decade and the major cause has been the chaotic land reform.
The country’s poorly equipped and ill-financed farmers have failed for more than a decade to produce enough soya beans for oil processors and other industries.
Zimbabwean farmers are producing an average of 30 000 tonnes of soya beans per year, according to Oil Expressers’ Association of Zimbabwe.
Apart from the production of edible oil, soya beans can be used to make stock feeds.
Farming experts say local production can be increased by mobilising and providing farmers with requisite skills, knowledge, inputs, irrigation and mechanisation support.
Zimbabwe has capacity to increase soya production to meet demand and provide for exports within a few cropping seasons.
With proper planning and foresight, soya volumes will be boosted under Command Agriculture and promises to meet national soya needs