23 January 2013

Zambia: PF Shift Blame of Poor Agriculture to Ominia, Nyiombo

Government is trying to shift the blame on their mismanagement of the farming season by blaming fertilizer suppliers Omnia Fertiliser and Nyiombo Investments.

The PF government officials have since intensified a smear campaign against the contracted fertilizer distributors as the causers for the delayed supply of inputs under Input Support Programme.

Agriculture deputy minister Rogers Mwewa has said the government will start deducting 0.5 percent per week delayed on the due payment to the companies.

"As per contract signed, we are supposed to start deducting the penalty, which is 0.5 percent of the total amount that they are supposed to be paid," he said.

Omnia Fertiliser general manager Vincent Mukiamba said the delay in delivering the input is a sad development but that this has been occasioned by government's delay in signing of the contracts.

Mukiamba hopes that his company will finish the fertilizer distribution by end of this week to all the districts that are remaining.

"At this point, I can confirm that we have so far distributed about 96 percent of the fertilizer that was contracted to our company. I think you appreciate that the contract could have been done much earlier in the year but we only signed at the end of September.

"This means that we only had October, November and December to distribute the entire 60,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer," he said.

Meanwhile, Niyombo Investment has attributed the delay to challenges with Tazara that was contracted to transport the fertilizer from Tanzania to Zambia.

Operations Manager Kwazi Dlamini, however, said they will complete distribution of input by the first week of next month.

Dlamini said Tazara was supposed to transport fertilizer from Tanzania into Zambia but that the rail company has had fuel shortages and sporadic work stoppages, which has delayed the distribution process.

He said Niyombo has so far distributed about 80 per cent of the fertilizer and that the company has since resorted to transporting fertilizer by road from Dar-es-Salaam to Zambia since December 2012 to date.

Many farmers have complained of a possible poor yield because of the government's inability to manage the agriculture sector professionally. They are annoyed with government for failing them in the distribution of inputs but government is shielding from the blame by condemning the contracted fertilizer distributors.

The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) has also raised concern on delayed delivery of input to farmers. ZNFU media unit has described the situation as unprecedented in the history of the country and that this will affect household and national food security in the country

In Chibombo, only 600 bags of fertilizer have been delivered to be shared among the 2000 farmers.

About 49,250 bags of fertilizer have not yet been delivered to farmers.

In Kabwe firmest protested at Nyiombo shed against the late delivery of fertilizer.

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