To face importation of cooking oils,Annual YR11 worth investment opportunities [Archives:2005/839/Business & Economy]

May 5 2005

Mahyoub Al-Kamaly
Yemeni official sources have revealed that Yemen imports cooking oils from external markets at a cost of around YR 11 billion. Thus, there is a need of investors in agricultural sector specialized in plantation of crops related to extraction and production of oils and their refinery to sell and export them.

The sources told the Yemen Times that there were directives issued by high-ranking authorities to the end of paying a prime attention to agriculture of sunflower plants to obtain seeds from which oil is extracted. The proportion of oil in this plant ranges between 30-50% and yields good economic revenues to farmers, as the value of one ton of such oils is more than $850.

The sources added that the oil of sunflower plant is considered rich in vitamins, especially vitamin B and is characterized by good flavor and pure color. Therefore, it is considered as major source for vegetable oils used in cooking. Industrially, the oil is also used in soap and paint industries. After extraction of oil from sunflower seeds, the remains could be used in feeding animals as it contains 30-35% of proteins, 20% of carbohydrates and 6% oil. Stalks of the plant contain a high percentage of nitrogen, calcium and potassium.

After harvesting the plant and plouhging the soil, the remains of the plant increase organic material in the soil and improves its fertility. Growing of sunflower plants help increase production of honey, as bees pollinate the plant and such their nectar.

Growing sunflower plants would also lead to diversification and development of the Yemeni farmer's income through the increase in his economic revenues due to the high economic return of this crop which is deemed as one of the oil crops that can stand hard climactic circumstances and drought. It is also characterized by economizing in the use of irrigation water for its growth

On the other hand, the sources confirmed the significance of the private sector participation in providing local raw materials for the industrialization of vegetable oils and fodders to make these contribute to covering part of national requirements for these essential goods.

They pointed out that Yemen imports YR11 billion worth of vegetable oil from abroad. This urges the need for supply and industrialization of those oils locally through increasing agricultural production of the sunflower crop, cottonseeds, sesame and others in a manner benefiting the farmers and the national economy.

It is to be pointed out that some private sector investors have gone ahead of the government in investment in this field and need support from official authorities as well as offering facilities to them. Particularly regarding irrigation and arable lands in order to expand in production of oils to cover the need of the Yemeni market of this commodity.