Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
AGRO-PROCESSING firm, United Refineries Limited is still to utilise its state-of-the-art stockfeed manufacturing plant it acquired from India about three years ago due to an acute shortage of soya beans and cotton in the country.
URL chief executive officer, Mr Busisa Moyo, said the $250 000 worth stockfeed manufacturing machine procured from India in 2014 as part of the company’s diversification strategy was lying idle due to lack of adequate raw material mainly soya beans and cotton.
The company’s stock feed product line includes soya bean meal (which is ideal for poultry animals and pigs) as well as cotton hull (which is high in fibre and ideal for cattle, chicks and mushroom growing).
“We are not producing (stockfeed)…we are not crushing, we are just refining for cooking oil. There is no crop, so we cannot fire the machine if we have less than 6 000 tonnes,” he said.
The plant has the capacity of producing an average of 4 000 tonnes per month of various cotton-based protein and fibre feeds for the beef and dairy industry.
There has been adverse shortage of cotton over the years as most farmers boycotted growing the crop five years ago in protest against low prices that were being offered by contracting companies, with the latter insisting that they were doing so following a drop of cotton prices on the international market.
For its undoing the Zimbabwe Investment Authority was approving investments into oil processing without paying much attention to the source of oil seeds leaving stockfeed companies to import cotton seed or substituting it with soya bean where they could.
Other stockfeed manufacturers include Agrifoods, Gerghaan Feeds, Capital Foods, Feedmix, Grain Marketing Board, National Foods Ltd, Profeeds, Hyperfeeds, Manyame Milling, Meadow Enterprises, Novatek Animal Health, Windmill, Irvine’s Zimbabwe, Triple C Pigs, Ice Feeds, Hamara Feeds and Fivet Animal Health.