Oil producers have pledged to buy 150 000 tonnes of soya beans grown under Command Agriculture, but will negotiate for a buying price of between $400 and $500 per tonne.
The arrangement will be similar to that of the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe of buying directly from Government after it has collected the produce from the farmers. Though the Government intends to push soya beans price further to $780 per tonne from the proposed $610 to promote production, Oil Expressers of Zimbabwe (OEAZ) are willing to pay the import parity price of $400 per tonne.
OEAZ president, Mr Busisa Moyo, told The Herald Business that Government super schemes for 2017 /2018 soya beans production is commendable and is taking good shape well ahead of the season.
"Soya beans is a critical raw material in the production of edible oil and soya cake for cattle feeding and is expected to be grown both under Presidential Input Scheme and Command Agriculture Scheme.
"We are impressed by Government's efforts to improve soya bean production in the country and we would like to buy 150 000 tonnes of soya beans under the Command Agriculture. "We have already told the Government our annual demand (150 000 tonnes) and we will have the discussions as far as the purchase price is concerned but we would like to buy with the import parity price of $400 per tonne or even at a higher price," said Mr Moyo. Government is considering reviewing the producer price upwards to $780 per tonne from the proposed $610 per tonne.
Most farmers were said to be preferring maize to soya beans as they felt the former has high returns per hectare than the latter. The upward price review comes at a time when the Government is moving towards the revival of the soya beans production in the country.
Mr Moyo declined to comment on the viability of the proposed price in his sector. "I wouldn't comment on the proposed price as it is a Government initiative of trying to bring back the lost appetite for the leguminous crop.
"It's within their right to implement various strategies to grow over 300 000 tonnes of soya beans to save over $200 million of foreign currency. "Authorities are well aware of our 150 000 tonnes demand of crude oil so they have a very good task to carry out there. When the crop is ready we will pay them as per agreements," he said.
Speaking during the Mashonaland East Command Wheat tour recently , Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made, said Government did not have foreign currency to continue importing soya beans and wanted to motivate farmers to grow the crop by offering better prices.
"We do not have foreign currency to continue importing soya beans when we have the land to produce the crop. The crop requires irrigation especially at first and we are aware farmers require irrigation facilities. Irrigation development is going to be a major programme," he said. "We also encourage farmers to pay back loans. We should be determined in paying back loans or even paying deposits," he said.
Government is in the process of mobilising $150 million for the 2017/ 2018 Command Soya Bean Scheme and of that amount Sakunda Holdings has already committed $47, 8 million towards the facility. Oil producers are also mobilising $100 million worth of inputs, irrigation infrastructure to grow 100 000 hectares of soya bean in the next summer season.