The government has set a production target of 400000 metric tonnes per annum for soya bean by 2020, a move expected to alleviate shortages of the commodity among oil expressors and also further reduce the import bill.

The shortage of soya bean on the local market owing to production challenges has largely affected oil expressors who have to resort to importing the commodity in order to meet the country’s requirements.

This has also added pressure on the forex reserves as companies line up on the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) forex priority list to import soya. 

However, the government has vowed to remove production bottlenecks and improve the soya bean value chain in order to achieve that target.

“We have come up with a raft of measures to ensure that we meet our own needs locally and this includes making soya bean one of the command crops,” said Cde Davis Marapira, the Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union Director, Mr Ben Gilpin said the target is within reach but maintained that the government needs to deal with mis-pricing and side marketing issues of the crop.

“There is a direct relationship between the price of soya bean and that of maize, which is normally 2:1. If the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) buys maize for $390 per tonne, it follows that the price of soya should be at least $790 per tonne.  The other challenge is that yield by our farmers is low and the government has to cushion the farmer by setting the price higher,” he said.

The buying price of soya bean currently stands at $610 per tonne, and the government has announced that the buying price for the 2017/2018 marketing season will be announced within the next three weeks.

Oil expressors have decried the shortage of soya bean on the local market, something which has largely affected their operations.

The ongoing agricultural reforms being instituted by the government are set to resuscitate the production of most major crops including wheat.

Records show that Zimbabwe experienced peak production of most crops in 2000.