Source: Fertiliser shortage explained – Sunday News Dec 25, 2016
The Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Ministry has called on monetary authorities to prioritise fertiliser manufacturers when allocating foreign currency.
There are fears that Zimbabwe might soon run out of the chemical owing to delays by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to release foreign currency for the purchase of raw materials.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made told our Harare Bureau last week that fertiliser companies should be prioritised in the foreign currency allocation because of their critical nature to agricultural success.
“There has been a shortage of fertiliser in the country due to the delays in allocation of foreign exchange to firms buying fertiliser raw materials from South Africa and Mozambique,” said Dr Made.
“The situation was worsened by the cotton input scheme, the Presidential input scheme and command agriculture scheme which require a lot of fertiliser due to the intensity of the programmes.
“To address the situation we have engaged the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, The Finance (and Economic Development) Ministry and the Industry and Commerce Ministry to include fertiliser firms on the top priority list of the foreign currency allocation.
“Agriculture should be prioritised as it is the backbone of the economy and the country’s top foreign currency earner,” said Dr Made.
Minister Made said a lot of sacrifices must be made in the allocation of foreign currency if the country is to achieve food security.
“You won’t achieve great yields if you put less fertiliser on whatever crop you are growing, especially during these times of high rainfall patterns,” he said.
“At the moment, the Government is addressing the basal fertiliser issues, but in January going forward, top dressing fertilisers will be in demand.
“We hope that by the time, we would have found our way out.”
Our Harare Bureau has gathered that suppliers of fertiliser raw materials in Mozambique and South Africa are dispatching inputs to Zimbabwe upon full payment.
Fertiliser firms have since appealed to the Government to increase the amount of foreign currency allocation to enable them to meet their contractual obligations.
The appeal was made through the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development after legislators visited Omnia Fertiliser Zimbabwe plant in Banket and ZFC Limited in Harare to assess challenges being faced by the industry.
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee Honourable Christopher Chitindi said while the Government prioritises fertiliser production, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe should increase its offerings so that the companies continue production.
Information gathered shows that ZFC Ltd requires US$6 million to manufacture fertiliser if it is to meet its obligations under command agriculture.
Omnia Fertiliser, which was contracted by Government to provide 6 800 tonnes of Ammonium Nitrate, has so far supplied 5 000 tonnes.