By Kenias Chivuzhe
LOCAL companies have been encouraged to invest in out-grower schemes to boost production in the agriculture sector and reduce the national import bill.
It emerged during a tour of Associated Foods Zimbabwe plant in Vumba this Thursday that a company known for products such as peanut butter, jam and tinned foods products imports at least 85 percent of their raw materials.
The company’s Head of Human Resources, Mr David Muzadzi revealed that imports of raw materials and packaging material in the face of foreign currency shortages has taken its toll on the company’s operations.
“Currently our production capacity hovers around 40 percent. The major drawback on our production is the importation of raw and packaging materials. We are importing cans from South Africa and groundnuts from Malawi. We are also importing our white pea beans for the manufacturing of our baked beans. Improvement in the supply of raw materials can improve our capacity utilisation to over 60 percent by year end,” said Mr Muzadzi.
Manicaland Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Honourable Nokuthula Matsikenyere stressed the need for companies to consider investing in out-grower schemes to eliminate the challenge of importing raw materials.
“We have seen that they are producing peanut butter but the challenge is that they are importing ground nuts from Malawi. They are also importing white pea beans. We encourage local farmers to take advantage of the factory here. This will reduce pressure on foreign currency . It will also ensure the company only imports spare parts. We are discouraging them from importing raw materials. They can embark on out grower schemes to promote local production of raw materials,” said Hon Matsikenyere.
The Second Republic is on a drive to promote local production to fill up shelves with locally manufactured products, thereby reducing the import bill and creating employment.