Fertiliser manufacturers bemoan low business

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Harare(New Ziana)-Local fertiliser manufacturers on Tuesday said business was low as farmers could not afford to buy fertilisers resulting in them waiting for free inputs from government.

The firms told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Climate, Water and Rural Resettlement that their fertilisers remained on shop shelves even during the summer cropping season when business is normally high.

The price of fertiliser is ranging between RTGS$400 and RTGS$500 for a 50 kilogramme bag.

Windmill chief executive officer George Rundogo attributed the low uptake of fertilisers to dwindling disposable incomes.

“We are noticing that there is no uptake for the fertilisers, even if we put it out there, the farmers cannot afford fertilisers. We have got the product available in the shops but uptake is very low. We only assume that demand is driven by capacity to pay.

“The price is the same but it is the disposable income that the customer has got which could have changed and as a result, people are not buying,” he said.

Rundogo said the government remained the single largest customer of fertilisers which means once a firm failed to secure a contract to supply inputs under the presidential input scheme, its product remained on the shelves.

“Over 80 percent is probably government related procurement so if you are not in them, then you have very little that you are doing. And we are in that situation at this stage where we do not have much from the government program. We are relying mainly on the commercial programs,” he said.

Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company managing director Dr Richard Dafana also lamented low uptake of the commodity which has been exacerbated by the firm’s failure to get a government contract.

“Outside the government input scheme, there is very little individual capacity of farmers buying their own requirements. So if you do not get a significant order from the government scheme, you are out of business,” he said.

The Presidential Input Scheme requires about 170 000 tonnes of fertiliser each cropping season.

“That is why the significance of the government scheme in this climate cannot be underestimated,” said Dr Dafana.

Sole ammonium nitrate manufacturer, Sable Chemicals said local fertiliser producers were sidelining them by importing their requirements.

“We have been ready from 1 January 2019 as the sole manufacturer of Ammonium Nitrate fertiliser in Zimbabwe. We have the plant, capacity and a team of experienced people to produce quality product for the country,” he said.

“Our prices are competitive, it compares with any imported product landing in Harare but lots of fertiliser is being imported yet we have the capacity to produce,” said chief executive Bothwell Nyajeka.

He added: “If this year we had received the US$31 million that we require to produce our 90 000 tons for the year, and you compare it with importing, we would have saved this country US$10 million.”

New Ziana

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