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United Refineries to invest $30 million in soya bean production

AGRO-PROCESSING concern United Refineries Limited (URL), together with its partners, says it will invest about $30 million in soyabean outgrowers’ project with a target to satisfy its demand for the edible oil seed.

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

URL chief executive officer Busisa Moyo told journalists in Bulawayo on Monday that the company was targeting to put at least 7 500 hectares under the Soya Bean Outgrower Alliance (SOBOA) initiative.

“We have assembled interested stakeholders from the financial service community to input providers, to come and participate in this programme with a view to increasing the output of soyabeans for the oil and stockfeed industry. That’s our primary motivation. So far, we have registered above 1 000 hectares in terms of farmers,” Moyo said.

“This is an ongoing programme. Our target was 7 500 hectares, but due to some of the developments in the economy, we might not be able to reach that target. We think we will be able to get at least half of what we started with,” he said.

Moyo said their final target is about 25 000 hectares.

“This is just the first year, but it’s an ongoing journey for the next six to eight years. Maybe we would like to at least have farmers that are linked to us under this programme that will see us bringing in 50 000 tonnes,” he said.

“Our capacity here (URL) is 72 000 tonnes per annum, based on the current set up. If you are looking at numbers and dollars, and remember that it’s an alliance, all of us are investing into this programme. So if you are looking at 25 000 hectares; at a cost per hectare of $1 300 then you are looking at something in the region of $30 million as being the final investment that will be made,” he said.

Zimbabwe requires about 400 000 tonnes of soyabeans, but the southern African country has not been able to meet the demand, producing only 60 000 tonnes.
As such, companies in the oil expressers have been importing the product.

Last year, imports of soyabeans drained $172 million from the fiscus, with farmers only managing to produce 30 000 tonnes.

Farmers present also pledged to support the programme.

source: newsday

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