By Alois Vinga
GOVERNMENT has been called upon to channel foreign currency towards the manufacturer of fertlisers in order to preserve jobs and prevent damage to soil by imported chemicals.
This came out in a statement issued by the Zimbabwe Fertiliser Manufacturers Association (ZFMA), which is now compiling a draft paper which will be tabled before authorities.
Hard currency is required to purchase raw materials used in the manufacture of fertiliser.
Players in the sector contend that if government avails the foreign currency, more money which is currently going towards import of fertilisers could be saved and channeled to other sectors of the economy.
“The meeting further agreed to solicit comments from various stakeholders, to input into the initial draft, before presentation to the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Minister of Finance and Economic Development as well as to the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, and Rural Resettlement.
“Representatives from the fertiliser industry, as well as Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), met to discuss strategies to use in lobbying government to extend support in foreign currency to the industry for its Ammonium Nitrate (AN) fertiliser production,” reads the meeting’s feedback statement.
According to the manufacturers, a total amount of US$24.5 million is required monthly for the production of 70 000 tons of Amonium Nitrate.
Currently ammonium nitrate lands in Zimbabwe at US$500 per ton and its retail price is ranging between US$30-US$39 per 50kg bag, translating to between RTGS$100 and RTGS$120.
“However, with government support extended towards Sable Chemicals for example, their 50 kg bag of fertiliser will sale at not more than US$27, translating to between RTGS$79 and RTGS108, cheaper than any prevailing retail prices,” the statement added.
The manufacturers are also arguing that, imported fertiliser may not be suitable with the Zimbabwe soil types, as they are made to suit the climatic conditions of the countries in which they are produced.
“If implemented, the policy will assist in preserving the foreign currency which can therefore be channeled to other critical needs. The meeting also found it very crucial to safeguard hundreds of jobs in the industry and the need to protect investments made,” the manufacturers said.