By Bernard Mutambudzi
Vice President,Kembo Mohadi today urged Zimbabwean farmers to take up Castor bean farming seriously.
He said this while at the Castor bean Convention at a local hotel in Harare today, which was organised by Life-Brand an emerging Local Agro Business Company.
Addressing senior Government officials, farmers, captains of industry and students studying agriculture in various Colleges and Universities, VP Mohadi said castor bean would transform the lives of the people.
The convention was running under the theme, "Castor Beans Unlocking Sustainable Economic Growth for Zimbabwe.”
"As enunciated in the State of Nation Address (SONA), by his Excellency, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, that modernization is the immediate goal while economic development is the immediate task. To achieve our broader vision we need to reform our Agriculture which is the mainstay of our economy," said VP Mohadi.
VP Mohadi said that real money does not lie in Agricultural production but in related manufacturing sectors. He encouraged people to establish downstream industries which seek value addition for their produce.
"In implementing our agricultural policy measures, Government is concentrating on creating production bases for cash crops such as Castor beans, with a view of gaining access in the global market," he said.
He said with its immense health and industrial properties, castor beans will no doubt play a major role in our goal of transforming the country in line with vision 2030.
Life Brands Agricultural Services, Managing Director, Mr Isidory Kembo said “farming Castor beans will be a game charger for the farmers as the crop has a ready global market which far outstrips supply.
“Castor bean has a lot of economic benefits and is also a drought resistant crop that can be produced throughout the year and in any weather pattern in Zimbabwe,” he added.
VP Mohadi, again said “Castor beans can be harvested three times a year and can be used to produce several by products, which can help reduce the import bill. The country imports related products such as castor oil, fertilizer, bio diesel, plastic, stock feed among others.”
He further said, “The current import bill for fuel, pharmaceutical, lubricants, paints, cosmetics and livestock feed production is over US$2 billion.
"This can be reduced by the commercialisation of Castor bean farming in the country," he said.
He said castor production has a potential to earn the country USD 7 billion annually. Adding that increased support for Castor beans would create 500 000 job opportunities throughout the value-chain. The Global demand for Castor oil currently is at USD 1,7 trillion.
Life Brand Agricultural Services is one of the latest companies to embrace national agricultural initiatives after Sakunda which financed Command Agriculture.