HARARE – Zimbabwe’s largest financial group by assets and earnings, CBZ Bank, has issued agro bonds worth $35 million to raise funding for the 2013/14 soya bean production season.
The bonds — with a 272-day tenure and attracting a 10,5 percent interest — are expected to boost soya bean production in the country, whose agricultural sector has been on the decline since implementation of the land reform programme in the year 2000.
CBZ Bank yesterday invited various stakeholders, including government departments, insurers, commercial banks and investors among others to subscribe to the Agriculture Marketing Authority bills.
“Applications must be for a minimum of $50 000,” said the bank.
This comes after the southern African country missed its soya bean production target of 250 000 tonnes set for the industry this year.
“This year we have produced nearly 150 000 tonnes of soya-bean.
Although it is an improvement compared to last year’s figures, we are still failing to meet our national target,” said Sheunesu Mpepereki, the chairperson for the National Soya-bean Promotion Task Force. Statistics indicate that Zimbabwe produced 70 000 tonnes last year.
Soya bean growers said the country has a potential to grow 350 000 tonnes if farmers are properly mobilised and adequate resources made available.
Berean Mukwende, Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union second vice president recently indicated that there was need to control prices of soya bean if farmers are to realise profit from the crop.
“Soya inputs are very expensive but the prices that farmers sell their produce for are too low, and this has been putting strain on the farmers.
“If government puts price regulations on soya bean, then we can have more farmers producing the crop thus increasing the output,” he said.
Soya beans and its by-product are used for a variety of things including the production of cooking oil, stock feed and other edible foods.
However, production of the legume has been on a downward trend from a peak of 170 000 tonnes in 2001 to as little as 20 000 tonnes in 2011.
The persistent soya bean shortages have forced cooking oil producing companies such as Olivine Industries — that consume significant soya bean stocks for the production of cooking oil, soap and other household products — to cut down on production.
The Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe predicted that the country would continue to face excessive shortages as most farmers were failing to provide collateral in order to access funds to increase production.
As a result of the shortage, capacity utilisation at the companies that make use of the crop have remained depressed.
Zimbabwe also has a soya bean crushing capacity of 450 000 tonnes per annum but the industry is operating below 10 percent capacity utilisation.
Analysts say there is need to improve smallholder soya producers from the average yields of 0,5 tonnes per hectare to two tonnes per hectare while commercial producers should move from the average of 1,8 tonnes per hectare to three tonnes per hectare.