OILSEED crops can increase farm revenues if the smallholder farmers produced efficiently to obtain fair market prices, says Edible Oil Refiners Association consultant Aubrey Chibumba.
Mr Chibumba said it was important that diversification options were made available to the economy, adding that Zambia was a limited exporter of protein principally because of lack of stock feed.
He said locally produced oil could enable Government to cut back on crude oil imports which currently stand at over US$70 million annually.
Mr Chibumba said locally packed oils were cheaper than the crude edible oil imported from Indonesia and Malaysia because this was only promoting value addition in those respective countries.
He said it was important to increase the availability of stock feed, if additional employment was to be created.
Mr Chibumba said the demand for edible oils in Zambia was huge and would continue to grow as the country developed.
He said programmes for the introduction of structured edible oil markets would support the smallholder farmers to improve their farming efficiency and access to markets.
Mr Chibumba said the animal husbandry sector also supported the meat processing and meat packing sub-sectors.
He said industries in Zambia with significant growth potential could only be realized if the underpinning edible oil sector was operating effectively.
“More than half of Zambia’s edible oil consumption is imported from the Far East, East Africa and South Africa. The cost of importing edible oil from the Far East can account for around a third of its retail price,” Mr Chibumba said.
He said the edible oil industry was one of the largest sectors in Zambia, and also critical to food production in the country.
Over US$150 million has been invested in the industry to produce 20,000 metric tonnes of refined vegetable oil per month – over twice the domestic consumption of just less than 10,000 metric tonnes per month.