The Herald (Harare)

1 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Nation Faces 700 000t Fertiliser Deficit

Zimbabwe faces a fertiliser deficit of 400 000 tonnes, with the 2012/2013 farming season already in full swing.

The country needs at least 700 000t of both Ammonium Nitrate and Compound D for a successful season.

Speaking after meeting fertiliser companies in Harare on Tuesday, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said Government would assist the companies in building stocks.

He instructed the companies to urgently move the available fertiliser to the farmers.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Deputy Minister Seiso Moyo and the ministry's permanent secretary, Mr Ngoni Masoka, were also in the meeting with officials from the

Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company, Windmill (Private) Limited and Omnia.

"The companies have agreed to move the fertiliser and have indicated that they have the resources to start distributing it to the country's different provinces," said Minister Biti.

He said ZFC and Windmill would be complemented by foreign suppliers to produce more fertiliser for adequate stocks.

Government, Minister Biti said, would also mobilise resources to settle outstanding payments for inputs delivered last season.

"To date, Government has managed to liquidate its debt with the input suppliers from US$50 million to US$40 million and we will continue working out ways of raising more funds to clear the remaining balance," he said.

Minister Biti said Government would release US$10 million to fertiliser manufacturers and seed houses as part of their payments for fertiliser and seed delivered last season.

He said US$7 million would be given to fertiliser manufacturers, while the remaining US$3 million would go to seed houses.

Minister Biti expressed concern over reports that some retailers were selling fertiliser at US$41 and US$48 for Compound D and AN respectively.

He challenged the fertiliser manufacturers to give farmers adequate information on reliable sources of fertilisers to get rid of middlemen.

Minister Biti said fertiliser companies had agreed to keep the price of Compound D at US$31 instead of the US$41 charged by unscrupulous traders.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation, Minister Biti said, had also mobilised US$80 million to fund agricultural production this season.

He said Government would engage the donor community to mobilise resources towards assisting the disadvantaged households.

Fertiliser and seed shortages have in the past been blamed for the poor performance of the agricultural sector in Zimbabwe.

The suppliers of the respective inputs have also blamed their poor showing on funding constraints and high default rates by creditors.

Spokesperson for the fertiliser industry Mr Misheck Kachere recently said the local producers had the capacity to meet demand for compound fertilisers provided funding was availed on time.

The Meteorological Services Department has forecast that Zimbabwe would receive normal to below normal rainfall during the farming season.

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