EDITORIAL: Coordination key to the growth of local agro-processors

This newspaper last week reported that machines at the country’s only edible oil producing plant, Mount Meru Soyco Ltd, were rusting away as local farmers failed to meet demand.

This newspaper last week reported that machines at the country’s only edible oil producing plant, Mount Meru Soyco Ltd, were rusting away as local farmers failed to meet demand.

The plant has capacity to process 200 metric tonnes per day and needs a minimum of 120 metric tonnes, while farmers and agro-dealers are currently only supplying close to 250 metric tonnes per week.

This is despite the fact that the country imports nearly 30,000 metric tonnes of edible oil per year, paying a whopping US$42 million in the process.

Demand for edible oil consumption in the country is also expected to increase from the current average of 2.5kg per capita to 5kg per capita in the next 15 years.

In an exclusive interview, the firm’s chief executive, spoke of their desire and readiness to produce enough to meet the local demand and also to export to neighbouring countries.

He said government was fully supportive of this cause and fully engaged with view to ensuring that the firm gets enough raw materials so it can produce more and help cut edible oil import bill.

That is commendable.

However, the experience of Mount Meru Sayco Ltd and other local agro-processors leaves a lot to be desired.
Currently, authorities are helping manage a situation that may never have happened in the first place.

There is need to be more pro-active and to be a step ahead instead of being re-active.

Had the concerned government institutions worked closely from the time it became certain that the firm was to set up shop, the current challenges could have been avoided.

But this calls for closer coordination among respective public institutions and with the private sector to ensure that potential challenges are analysed and collective redress undertaken beforehand.

There are lessons to be drawn from these kinds of experiences.

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