Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter
Zimbabwe has been saving $40 million per year in fuel imports since the introduction of blended petrol, a senior official in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development has said.
Government introduced mandatory petrol and ethanol blending in November 2013.
Officiating at the fourth regional consultative meeting on national biofuels policy on Thursday, Ministry of Energy and Power Development director for policy and planning, Engineer Benson Munyaradzi said blending of petrol had significantly reduced the import bill.
“Zimbabwe requires 45 million litres of petrol every month and by blending 10 percent we use less money to procure fuel.
“Currently, the introduction of ethanol has helped reduce the import bill by $40 million per year and the money is used internally to improve other areas,” he said.
Eng Munyaradzi said the introduction of biofuels would make an impact on the transport industry and improve livelihoods.
He said biofuels were mostly developed in farming and rural areas where they generate jobs for these communities.
“This project will raise the standard of living, create new industry and increase the GDP as outlined by the Zim-Asset,” he said.
Eng Munyaradzi said by coming up with a national policy on biofuels, stakeholders would be able to deal with challenges affecting the industry.
The introduction of biofuels was meant to reduce dependency on imported fossil fuels, reduce fuel price volatility, improve energy security, promote rural development and create employment, he said.
A consultant assisting with the policy formulation, Dr Ephraim Hwingwiri, said the production of biofuels should not affect food production and security.
“There is a lot of land that is not being used for agricultural purposes and can be used to produce biofuel crops such as sugarcane,” he said.
Another consultant, Mr Prosper Mutondi, said the policy should also address issues of pollution and encourage investment in small to medium enterprises.
“Small to medium enterprises should be able to invest in biofuel production (in order) to empower them, especially women,” he said.