ZIMBABWE will register a 33 percent increase in soya bean production for the 2017/2018 season, Oil Expressers Association of Zimbabwe (OEAZ) chairman Busisa Moyo has said.
“We expect the soya bean crop to be around 40 000-45 000 metric tonnes (mt), which is a marginal increase from the previous 30 000-35 000 metric tonnes produced in 2016/17, a 33 percent increase,” Moyo said.
Zimbabwe’s national installed capacity is 384 000mt and OEAZ is targeting output of 240 000mt.
The country’s soya bean crop, which is supported by irrigation, was largely unaffected by a mid-season dry spell that affected production of other crops.
Soya bean production had been on the decline since 2000 when 150 000mt were produced. Last year’s figure of 35 000mt was the lowest recorded since the onset of the land reform programme.
Sub-Saharan Africa is a net importer of this globally critical protein source for both human and animal consumption, with America, South America and China being major producers.
The Americas produce higher yields due to their liberal policies on genetically modified soya beans. OEAZ has been urging commercial farmers and government to start implementing strategies to grow the crop and utilise the vast tracts of unused land, create employment and above all advance food security as the continent approaches the two billion population mark.
Zimbabwe imports the bulk of its soya bean requirements, resulting in an increase in the import bill, which Moyo believes could be significantly reduced by the introduction of genetically modified varieties.
Government prohibits the production of genetically modified soya, but is importing the product from other countries.
The soya bean value chain affects the prices of edible oils, soya meal and soya protein feeds, chicken meat, eggs, fish, pork and sausages, soya chunks, tofu and lactose free soya milk.
The association’s target is to produce the 240 000 tonnes of soya bean in three to four years, creating at least 10 000 jobs.