THE GOVERNMENT says it is working on supporting incremental production of fertiliser over the period to 2024, on the basis of an earlier five-year agreement with producers to curtail imports.
Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza told an Agribusiness Forum, which included measures for other value chain interventions, that the move will save scarce foreign currency.
The forum sought to integrate and align policies, strategies, programmes, projects, activities and to support and promote the development, growth and competitiveness of agro-processing.
Zimbabwe’s demand for fertiliser in a normal and good farming season, is about 600 000 tonnes (both basal and top dressing), of which 70 percent goes towards Government farming programmes.
The fertiliser industry in Zimbabwe plays a key role in terms of its contribution to gross domestic product and its growth and food security among others.
Apart from saving the country the elusive foreign currency, Minister Nzenza said the planned strategies will also result in improved national food security, while creating employment.
“The Government entered into a five year fertiliser import substitution roadmap with local fertiliser manufacturers to boost productivity and production, save foreign currency, ensure food security and create employment,” she said.
The planned interventions will see AN production grow exponentially from 30 000 tonnes to 240 000 tonnes monthly while compound output is anticipated to increase from 60 000mt to 100 000mt per month.
Ammonium nitrate production capacity stands at 60 000 metric tonnes while actual output was only 30 000mt. Phosphate compounds capacity is 80 000mt against production of 60 000mt.
The Minister said Zimbabwe has an idle capacity of 60 000mt for AN and 20 000mt for phosphate compounds, which are causing delays in accessing foreign currency for required inputs.
As such, mooted strategies entail recapitalisation of fertiliser manufacturing companies, timely orders of fertiliser for Government programmes and early disbursement of funds to producers.
Further, she said there was need to invest in new fertiliser manufacturing technologies and increasing the uptake of locally manufactured fertiliser by Government for its agricultural programmes.
Other targeted value chains include soya bean, cotton, dairy sector and leather. Dr Nzenza said challenges facing agro-processing included Covid-19, forex shortage, high cost of finance, high export surrender rate and low export incentives amid strong external competition.