Dumisani Nsingo/Clinton Moyo, Farming Reporters
THE Government has distributed over 20 000 tonnes of soya bean seed for cropping under the Command Agriculture Programme aimed at enhancing production of the crop as it moves to curb imports.
Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Davis Marapira said some of the beneficiaries of inputs under Command Soya Production have started cropping.
“We have distributed more than 20 000 soya bean seed to beneficiaries of the Command Soya Production Programme and those at irrigation schemes started cropping in November while others started doing so at the beginning and mid-December while others are in the process of doing so. In actual fact more than 60 percent of the beneficiaries have started cropping,” Deputy Minister Marapira said.
The country is looking forward to increasing its soya bean output for the 2017/18 season to 60 000 tonnes buoyed by the introduction of the Command Agriculture and Presidential Input schemes.
The target for the 2018/19 season has been pegged at 100 000 being achieved through the involvement of the private sector led value chain expansion which would be supported by Government programmes. These include contract farming, joint-venture farming, smallholder farmer education and development.
Soya production has drastically fallen from 180 000 tonnes in 2001 to 30 000 tonnes in 2016 with oil output of 30 600 tonnes and 5 100 tonnes respectively.
The cooking industry has indicated that it needs a supply of about 240 000 tonnes of soya beans a year to curb imports. The industry is struggling to meet the country’s cooking oil demand of 10 000 tonnes per month.
Last year, crude soya bean imports amounted to about $120 million and in 2016 they exceeded $72 million.
Masvingo Department of Agricultural Technical and Extension Services (Agritex) provincial officer Mr Peter Chamisa said the province has set aside 1 000 hectares for soya beans cropping.
“In Masvingo we have done the first phase of assessment. The land we have set aside for soya beans is 1 000 hectares and the window period has been closed,” he said.
“I am still new in the office but last year I doubt that we had any soya beans produced here.”
Matabeleland North provincial Agritex officer Mr Dumisani Nyoni said preparations for soya bean cropping had begun.
“Right now I can’t say how much we have targeted because farmers have their own target and we (Agritex) have our own target. We are yet to assess how things are on the ground and see how much has been taken by soya beans so far . . . ,” said Mr Nyoni.