A German investor has partnered a local oil seed firm in a multi-million dollar venture towards the establishment of a sunflower seed oil processing plant that will cushion the country against further pressures on foreign currency incurred through soya bean imports.

The initiative to revive sunflower seed production implemented in September this year, reflects significant progress with revelations that at least 80 000 small holder farmers are registered to grow the crop this season.

Driven by the Oil Seed Association of Zimbabwe, the revitalisation programme for sunflower seeds targets to grow at optimum 115 000 hectares to produce at least 230 000 tonnes of the oil seeds, enough to process cooking oil that will meet national demand.

The overall target is to boost this production with strong exports to international markets such as Australia and New Zealand to be achieved through value addition of the seeds under a partnership deal with a German investor.

Zimbabwe is incurring heavy costs through soya bean imports running into at least $200 million annually which continue to put pressure on the country’s foreign currency reserves.

The 2019 national budget stresses that enhanced production will be the panacea to solving the twin evils that is the current deficit and trade deficit which have haunted the economy.

The Oil Seed Association of Zimbabwe is targeting to rake in at least $2 billion in revenue from this venture over the next five years which will also be expanded to groundnut seed production.

This positive sentiment rings good news for sunflower seed farming in Zimbabwe as production and hectarage took a heavy dip over the past decade with farmers opting for other oil producing seeds such as cotton, groundnuts and soya beans ahead of sunflower.