Precious Maphosa, Business Reporter
AT least four financial institutions have committed to partnering United Refineries Limited (URL) to fund its soya bean outgrowers’ project as it forges ahead to satisfy its demand for the edible oil seed.
URL chief executive officer Mr Busisa Moyo said the personal care and agro-commodities processor was inviting farmers with at least 10 hectares for contract farming under its Soya Bean Outgrower Alliance (SOBOA) initiative.
“As URL, we are giving an opportunity to farmers with at least 10 hectares of land to partner us to grow soya beans under our SOBOA. We will assist with a letter of guaranteed uptake plus help farmers to access finance from banks on a case by case basis. CBZ, FBC, Agribank and ZB Bank have so far come forward,” said Mr Moyo.
He said the initiative guaranteed off taker for their produce, access to training services in soya bean growing and inputs.
“Soya beans improve soil quality and are the best alternative for crop rotation as it is a legume which is nitrogen fixing. We are also exploring a Block-chain technology to assist in management of our alliance to improve yields, contact and update farmers,” said Mr Moyo.
He said preparations for this year’s cropping season had already begun.
“We are preparing for the coming planting season and we are targeting a minimum of 7 500 hectares, we are compiling the list of legible farmers,” said Mr Moyo.
He said URL requires 80 000 tonnes of soya beans per year while the entire industries need 240 000 tonnes against the country’s production of 60 000 tonnes.
“This initiative will lead to import substitution, which will see a reduction in the import bill of circa $250 million per year for soya bean crude oil, soya meal and other value chain products linked to low soya output,” said Mr Moyo.
Last year, imports of soya beans drained $172 million from the fiscus, with farmers only managing to produce 30 000 tonnes.