IAPRI urges growth in edible oil sector

Palm-oil plantation.

THE Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI) says there is need to exploit crops that could be used to extract edible oil.
Recently, there has been an influx of cheap edible oils on the local market, posing stiff competition to the development of the sector.
According to a working paper by IAPRI titled ‘Bridging the Edible oil deficit in the country’, the processing of oil has remained stagnant due to low production of crops such as soya beans, groundnuts and sunflower.
The institute notes that edible oil demand is currently being met through imports of palm oil, rather than through domestic production because of reduced up-take of soya beans by edible oil processors, reduced crushing capacity by oilseed crushers and high imports and processors have fewer incentives to use local oilseeds in the production process.
“Imports of edible oil are undermining growth prospects in the domestic industry, there is need to increase the processing of edible oil in the country, but this can only be done by increasing the production of crops such as soya beans, sunflower and groundnuts,” IAPRI says.
The institute also observed that it is cheaper for processors to import crude and semi-processed oils for refining domestically.
IAPRI, however, says groundnuts have a high potential to increase edible oil production, but it is not highly utilised in Zambia.
Edible oils industry plays a critical role in Zambia’s economy and currently employs about 2,000 people in the manufacturing process and in primary oilseeds producers.
Recently, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Robert Sichinga said Zambia has the capacity to be self-sufficient in edible oil production due to availability of raw materials.

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