10 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Fertiliser Shortage in Mash West

Chinhoyi Bureau — FARMERS in Mashonaland West have expressed concern at the unavailability of fertilisers on the market while experts have expressed guarded optimism on the use of foliar fertilisers that have flooded the market as an alternative.

In an interview recently, Mashonaland West provincial Agritex officer Mrs Edna Shambare said farmers should fully grasp the requirements and nutrients capacity of the liquid fertilisers.

"There isn't enough information available for farmers on the new liquid fertilisers being introduced onto the market.

"Information on how to use them and whether they are suited for their conditions should be readily available for the farmers, but it's not," she said.

She warned farmers to fully grasp the nutrient content of the fertilisers, which are sprayed directly onto the crop instead of the conventional dissolvable granules.

It is a relatively new form of aiding plant growth and fighting pests which farmers are beginning to embrace following the shortage of fertilisers on the market. Fertiliser companies are on record saying there was a supply deficit, which has opened doors for some traders to cash in by importing the foliar fertilisers for sale to farmers.

Zimbabwe requires 150 000 tonnes of AN fertiliser but manufacturers last year indicated that they only had 70 000 tonnes in stock.

Farmers, said Mrs Shambare, should not rush to buy the products without enough information. She said farmers should work in conjunction with Agritex officials.

Mr Caleb Tashaya, a farmer from Hurungwe, said most shops did not have the fertilisers in stock while at the few that had the product it was expensive.

"The fertiliser quickly runs out where it is available but most of the time there is no fertiliser in the shops and this has affected our preparations," he said.

Mrs Shambare said some farmers in the province were still planting their maize crop.

However, she discouraged farmers from planting tobacco now.

The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union is offering the foliar fertiliser for about US$20 for quantities enough to cover an acre.

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