Fertiliser firms optimistic

Source: Fertiliser firms optimistic | The Herald October 20, 2017

Business Reporter
The fertiliser industry is optimistic that production will steadily increase following increased foreign currency allocation from the Central Bank, Zimbabwe Fertiliser Manufacturers spokesperson Mr Tapiwa Mashingaidze has said. The industry, that has at least 120 000 tonnes in stock, said the recently availed $600 million Afreximbank Nostro Stabilisation facility, has seen the apex bank increasing its foreign currency allocation to the industry to boost production.

In an interview with Business Weekly last week, Mr Mashingaidze, revealed that many companies had established plants in the country and were ready to produce.

“If the money comes now, there will be no problem with production of fertliser. There is capacity. There are so many big blending plants that have been established. The production of fertiliser is proportionate to the supply of foreign currency. Free fertiliser is not there,” he said. Government’s sponsored programmes such as Command Agriculture and the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme and the growing number of successful tobacco farmers, has seen fertiliser requirements significantly rising.

Demand for fertiliser in the past season was 400 000 tonnes and close to 500 000 tonnes might be needed for the 2017/18 season. Mr Mashingaidze said there are many players in the fertiliser industry, a scenario that makes it difficult to come up with an accurate number of tonnes demanded in Zimbabwe each season.

“I know the people want to know exactly how many tonnes of fertiliser are in stock. What we know is last season the country used about 400 000 tonnes and in the meantime we developing stock and we have about 100 000 tonnes in stock,” he said. There are, however, several dealers that independently import fertiliser, while some NGOs and countries such as China donate fertiliser that adds up to what is produced by the local industry. The country needs about 250 000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate and 250 000 compound fertilisers to ensure a well-oiled farming season covering all crops.

The main buyer of fertiliser from local suppliers is Government under the Command Agriculture Scheme, the Presidential Input Support Scheme and some private tobacco contractors. Private firms such as Delta Beverages are also major financiers of grain, while gold course managers order significant amount of fertilisers mainly ammonium nitrates. Key fertiliser manufacturers in Zimbabwe are Windmill, Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company, Omnia and Sable Chemicals. Government has accelerated preparations for the 2017-18 summer cropping season after securing almost US$500 million for inputs, some of which are already on the ground. Government is targeting 350 000 hectares under Command Agriculture, of which 290 000ha will be under maize, while 60 000 ha will be under soyabeans.