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'We need more Zimdollar than US$'

by Staff reporter
30 Oct 2020 at 06:19hrs | Views
UNITED Refineries Limited (URL) chief executive officer, Mr Busisa Moyo says the Bulawayo headquartered agro-processing company needs more of the local dollar to localise production of key raw materials and be able to feed its plant to full capacity.

At a time when most businesses and individuals are obsessed with transacting in forex, Mr Moyo believes having more of the local currency will greatly support transformation of the cooking oil processing and related value chain.

United Refineries is one of the country's leading and innovative producers of cooking oil and brands in personal care, hygiene and other value added agro-products categories. However, its capacity utilisation remains constrained by a weak domestic raw material base, which forces the sector to rely on imports.

The sourcing of soya bean and crude oil from outside the country piles pressure on limited forex resources and further cripples domestic industry viability.

"What we need now is, we are torn because we need more Zim-dollar than we need US-dollar. So, for now we are kind of sitting because for us we want to localise production of raw materials and for us to do that the Zim-dollar will really work for us," said Mr Moyo in an interview.

"So, we are investing in production through supporting out-grower schemes and also own farms. We are looking for pieces of land to produce our own raw materials."

He said the company was already working on a programme together with other producers through an alliance partnership aimed at boosting domestic production of mainly soya bean and other agro-processing elements.

"This season we have an alliance of farmers that will be producing for us. As you know, the Government has come in through Agribank to support farmers that produce for agri-processors like us. That dovetails well with our thrust," said Mr Moyo, who chairs the ZITF board and is also a member of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe monetary policy committee.

"We have just taken the farmers we work with on board and we are now putting them to produce for us because the banks also want an off-taker. So, we are doing it triangularly. Our alliance is triangular, that is, United Refineries, the bank and the farmer, and it's an alliance of working together.

"We are hopeful that we will increase our throughput. Last year we were able to increase our local soya by about 30-40 percent of what we buy locally but it's still a low base. We are talking of 10 000 tonnes compared to a plant that needs 50 000 tonnes. So, it's still very small but it's growth, and we must note that."

Mr Moyo expressed optimism that should their interventions realise at least 50 percent growth every year, the business will eventually achieve its target of operating at full capacity and growing its own raw materials.

"The we would have transformed our value chain and that's the desire. It's just the issue of land and financing as major issues for expansion," he said.

URL has been in existence for more than eight decades. It recently introduced mealie meal production and now has most of its food products fortified with critical vitamins for consumer health benefits.

Over the years, URL has grown to be one of Zimbabwe's leading brand manufacturers with export focus while looking forward to continued innovation. The company is also keen to list shares on the newly established Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFEX).

Source - chroncile
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