ESTHER MSETEKAÂ Lusaka
ZAMBIA risked losing out over US$150 million from importation of edible oil and putting on line 4,000 jobs, Crushers and Edible Oil Refiners Association (CEDORA) has noted.
CEDORA consultant Aubrey Chibumba says the assumption that the temporary banning of edible oil imports will push the price up is incorrect, but contribute to the local manufacturing firmsâ€™ growth.
Dr Chibumba said if not quickly addressed, the importation of edible oil would cause the country to lose out over US$150 million which has already been pumped into the economy and consequently impact negatively on both the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
â€œThe current market situation that our association is faced with is dire and will put 4,000 jobs at risk due to unfair imports â€¦On average 6,000 metric tonnes of edible oils are imported into the country per month ,â€ he said at a media briefing on Wednesday.
He said there is need to address the issue of unfair pricing that has risen due to the smuggling of edible oil into the country.
Dr Chibumba said the association is advocating a regulated market and application of the existing tariff rules as opposed to a complete ban on the import of edible oil.
Currently, the country has a production capacity of 20, 000 metric tonnes of refined vegetable oil which is twice the domestic consumption of just less than 10,000 metric tonnes per month.
H eÂ s a i dÂ t h eÂ a s s o c i a t i o n recognises that Zambia currently, does not produce enough oil seed to meet the domestic demand of nearly 10,000 metric tonnes of edible oil per month.
â€œTo be self-sufficient in edible oil, we will need to grow 1.2 million tonne of oil seed [and] this means that we need to cultivate an additional 300,000-400,000 hectares of new farm land.
â€œClearly, we will need to import crude oil for further processingâ€¦ We produce only about 300,000 metric tonnes of oil seed,â€ he said.
Dr Chibumba said the growth of the industry will help smallholder farmers diversify from maize and in turn encourage the development of the animal husbandry sub-sector.
The association is optimistic that Government will settle the current impasse in the sector by putting in place both a temporary ban on packed edible oil and a taskforce to investigate the unfair practices in the industry.
ESTHER MSETEKAÂ Lusaka