The New Times (Kigali)

19 July 2014

Rwanda: Gov't Seeks to Reduce Edible Oil Imports

The government has earmarked 30,000 hectares to grow soya beans in a bid to boost availability of edible oil and reduce imports. The country imports almost all its edible oil.

Kayonza district-based Mount Meru Soyco, a local producer of cooking oil, says it needs at least 200 tons of soya beans per day in order to meet the company's daily target production of 100 tons of edible oil.

Three ministers: Agnes Kalibata (Agriculture), Francois Kanimba (Trade and Industry) and Claver Gatete (Finance) Friday visited the plant to assess production challenges.

The company uses mainly soya beans and sunflower as raw materials to produce cooking oil.

According to Kalibata, the government was mobilising resources to increase production of soya to feed the industry to boost local edible oil production.

"There are obvious challenges. Soya production is extremely low, compared to the needs of the industry. We have however earmarked 30,000 hectares, on which soya will be exclusively grown. This will be done under our land consolidation program," the minister said.

She said that stakeholders were determined to sensitize farmers to embrace soya, a relatively new crop among Rwandan farmers that has gained importance.

"We are duty-bound to tell the people to grow the crop... you know it is a new type of crop not familiar with many farmers. Soybeans are now among our strategic crops....we have to promote it because of its commercial potential," said Kalibata.

The aim is to make Rwanda a self- sufficient nation in terms of quality edible oil, most of the raw materials are imported from neighbouring countries.

"We currently produce 60 tons of oil from the raw material we mainly import from neighboring countries. In order for us to produce 100 tons of oil per day, we need at least 200 tons of soya beans per day. But in the last three months, we have only managed to process 560 tons of soybeans. This can't take us far," said Innocent Uwimana, one of the managers.

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