Let’s go local on fertiliser

Source: Let’s go local on fertiliser – NewsDay Zimbabwe

ZIMBABWE’S biggest lender to farmers, CBZ has warned that the ever-rising prices of fertilisers are increasingly threatening agricultural production in this country and measures must be devised to counter this risk.

Because for many years now Zimbabwe has been over-relying on imported fertilisers from Russia, the war between Russia and Ukraine has placed the southern African country in a very precarious situation given that its economy is agro-based.

Although Zimbabwe has other sources of income such as mining and tourism, agriculture has remained the mainstay supporting nearly 70% of the country’s population, which makes it double critical that the issue raised by CBZ must be of top priority for our government and the nation.

It’s no use going around telling everyone who cares to listen that we used to produce our own fertiliser. Given the recent shifts in global economies as a result of the Russia-Ukraine war, we should, instead, be busy devising ways, as CBZ has suggested, of making sure that we depend on our own resources to shore up our agricultural production.

If we used to make our own fertilisers, should we not be busy exploring how we can resuscitate this very low-hanging fruit?

Whoever suggested that we should import fertilisers in the first place ill-advised us and we need to start believing in ourselves and make our own fertilisers.

And stakeholders such as CBZ should play a central role in this issue by availing funding to individuals and companies eager to venture into fertiliser manufacturing.

Obviously, there are always going to be many naysayers in the form of corrupt individuals in our governance system who have been benefiting from the fertilliser import regime. But this should not dissuade us from weaning ourselves from foreign fertiliser supplies.

That we have been busy importing a product which we are capable of manufacturing on our own speaks to the corruption cancer afflicting our nation.

We need to continue fighting corruption in all its different forms. And it is quite clear that some corrupt individuals mystified fertiliser manufacturing and suggested that importing the product would be better and cheaper.

We should bust and demystify this myth and big fat lie because we have all the key ingredients, such as coal and phosphate rock needed to make fertilisers.

Better still if the synthetic fertilisers we have been so dependent on are difficult or expensive to make, we still have an option of making organic fertilisers which should even create a niche market for our agricultural produce given that organically grown foods are now the in-thing globally.

Organic fertiliser manufacturing at a grand scale is a very low-hanging fruit that needs no economic measures from government. Institutions such as CBZ should actually offer the funding to capable people to set the ball rolling.