PRISCILLA MWILA, Mkushi
AGRI Options Limited (AOL) has urged Government to strengthen security at border points to reduce smuggling of oil into the country and increase market for soya beans.AOL chairperson Ted Karnezos said illegal imports of the oil has led to reduced prices of soya beans on the market as processors are unable to compete with the smuggled oil.
He said in an interview yesterday that more officers should be deployed in border areas to increase surveillance on oil smuggling.
“Last year, we had a good market as we were able to sell US$500 for a tonne of soya beans but now we cannot even sell it for US$270 because the smuggled oil is being sold at a cheaper price, making it difficult for local processors to make a profit,” he said. Mr Karnezos said production of soya beans is high and that most of it will go to waste as there is no market for it.
He said farmers made huge investment into growing soya beans but have suffered losses as processors are unable to buy soya beans for extraction of oil despite the bumper harvest.
Mr Karnezos said AOL used to focus on growing soya beans and extraction of oil but has been compelled to shut down due to low prices on the market.
He said AOL intends to contribute towards the growth of the soya beans industry in Zambia but requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders including Government.
And Mr Karnezos appealed to Government to consider investing in construction of roads in most farms in Mkushi, for easy transportation of farm products to markets. He said Government has a responsibility of ensuring that they provide a conducive environment for farmers to thrive if the agriculture industry is to grow in Zambia. AOL is a consortium of 13 farmers who specialise in growing and storing maize, soya beans and wheat. AOL also has a milling plant for processing wheat into flour for sale.