Wheat and soya bean production in Zimbabwe remains suppressed leading to unsustainably high import bills, amid calls for enhanced funding models that will elevate the status of the crop next year.

Zimbabwe is losing close to US$200 million in foreign currency annually on soya bean imports alone, while a similar figure is reflected on wheat imports, money that can be utilised to boost local production through mechanising the agricultural sector.

The red flag on soya bean requirements was raised last year after the country faced a grim reality of shortages of the crop, prompting authorities to push for a national growing scheme of the commodity through command soya farming.

Uptake, however, has been minimal, and the gap is still visible, with experts now reviving talks to upscale the production status of wheat and soya to support the local industry.

Government projects rapid decline on the current import deficit for wheat and soya bean over the next three to five years supported through the local content policy.

Zimbabwean farmers produce an average of 30 000 tonnes of soya bean per year, against a demand of about 300 000 tonnes.

Crucial plans such as incentivising farmers to grow the crop is thus vital if the country is to record better hectarage next season.