THE Government expects the price of fertiliser in the country to reduce as President Edgar Lungu officially commissions the US $5 million Zambian fertiliser blending Plant at the Lusaka South Multi-Facility Economic Zone (MFEZ) today. Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya says increased fertiliser production and supply will enable the price of the commodity to fall and ensure that farmers have no difficulties accessing the inputs.
Ms Siliya said this in a speech read for her by Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary Julius Shawa at the Lusaka South MFEZ during the prelude to the commissioning of the blending plant, which is a subsidiary of Export Trading Group (ETG).
"As Minister responsible for Agriculture I want to see increased production of fertiliser so that our farmers have increased access to the commodity and with increased production and supply the price of fertiliser will fall," she said.
Ms Siliya said her ministry was promoting crop diversification that could only be achieved if farmers had increased access to fertiliser.
She also said that ETG's investment was in line with the Government's aspirations on agricultural development aimed at ensuring value addition in the agricultural chain saying that ETG's initial investments were in distribution and trading.
Ms Siliya said this in a speech Ms Siliya said it was pleasing that ETG had now moved on to adding value by investing in facilities like the fertiliser blending plant.
Zambia National Farmers Union president Jervis Zimba also said that fertiliser prices were expected to start reducing overtime because the new plant would have an impact on the market.
Mr Zimba said that would be the only way farmers could sustain their business and comparative pricing of key inputs, especially fertiliser would bring benefits to farmers.
He said blended fertiliser was the type farmers needed because the benefits to the crops and soil were many besides assuring that Zambian farmers were ready to grow with ETG if they were offered good prices.
ETG inputs Zambia Limited programmes manager Nyambe Luhila said in an interview that the plant had a number of sections, one of them being that which processed lime and manure to make them ready for blending with Nitrogen Phospherous and Potassium fertiliser.
Mr Luhila said another component of the plant was the re-bagging section, which involved packaging to suit small scale farmers by having as low as 5 packages.
He said the plant would start by creating 123 permanent jobs with plans to increase the number and currently the company was dealing with about 400 agro dealers countrywide and that the target was to increase the number of agro dealers to 1,000 in 2018.
Zambian Fertilisers plant manager James Chisenga said the company had increased its production capacity from 800 bags a day to 8000 owing to the introduction of more machinery.ETG Agri inputs global chief executive officer Ashish Lakhotia said the Group's focus was not just to make money but to create a better world and make the people it dealt with happy.