Soya beans shortage hits URL operations

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    CEO URL, Busisa Moyo

    DIVERSIFIED agro-products manufacturer United Refineries Limited (URL) says it continues to operate at between 40 and 50 percent of capacity due to low production of soya beans in the country and the region triggered by lack of irrigation infrastructure and technical skills to grow the crop.

    Established in 1935 and based in Bulawayo, United Refineries is a leading producer of brands in personal care, hygiene and value added agro products in Zimbabwe that include Roil, Image, Star Bar and Olive Green Bar.

    Soya bean is a critical raw material in the production of edible oil in Zimbabwe.

    Over the years, its production has however been on the decline, falling from 57 900 tons in 2014/15 to 47 700 tones in the 2015/16 season.

    URL chief executive officer Mr Busisa Moyo said there was a need to increase soya beans production in the country through joint ventures and large scale contract farming in order to push capacity utilisation to 100 percent so that the firm starts to export its products and earn foreign currency.

    “We need to increase soya production from the existing 60 000 metric tons to about 240 000 mt and eventually 400 000 mt. The world over soya bean is becoming the main source of protein and base for feed for poultry, pigs and fish,” he said.

    “We need large tracts of land totalling 6 000 to 10 000 hectares near water sources to grow soya beans under joint ventures or large scale contract farming,” he said.

    Mr Moyo said his firm had been operating at between 40 and 50 percent capacity for a long time due to shortage of foreign currency to import crude oil, a substitute for soya beans.

    He said stringent policies in contract farming to prevent side marketing were critical in boosting soya beans production in Zimbabwe.

    Soya beans farmers should also be connected to oil expressers in order to allay fears of failing to find a market and to take advantage of the government price of $780 which is 62 percent above import parity, he said.

    – New Ziana/ Chronicle.

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