By Anna Chibamu
Most farmers this season may not be able to go back to the ploughing fields after agricultural input prices continue to sky rocket with a 50kg bag of fertiliser now costing more than $400, up from last planting season’s $30.
Fertiliser companies who gave oral evidence before parliament’s lands committee on Tuesday revealed that the product uptake had gone down due to continued price increases in the country.
FSG Managing Director Steve Morland told the committee the retail price of a bag of Compound D (basal dressing) was now $400 and that of Compound C (top dressing) was going for $460.
“At the moment, uptake of our fertiliser is not so robust as compared to last year,” said Morland.
“In our Golden leaf Campaign, uptake of product last year was 5000 tonnes but this year, it has increased to 11000 tonnes whilst the Gold Rush Campaign, we expect to see a bigger uptake in November when rains come.
“In 2017, optimum level was at 600 000 whilst in 2018, it was at 480 000 tonnes.”
He attributed the low demand in 2018 to prevailing foreign currency shortages in the country as banks are no longer able to provide the scarce currency to manufacturers.
Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company (ZFC) Managing Director Richard Dafana shared the same sentiments, saying their retail prices for Compound D and Compound C fertilisers were going for $400 and $450, respectively.
Sable Chemicals Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Nyajeka cited foreign currency shortages as banks had failed to give enough money for them to produce Ammonium Nitrate.
Windmill CEO George Rundogo expressed concern over the production which had gone down owing to foreign currency shortages as the company is also in huge arrears.
“Banks are not giving anything right now and we are only getting 5% of what we need to have maximum required production.
“Uptake is very low at the moment. Demand is driven by capacity to pay and our customers do have disposable income to pay for the product.
“…ZFC has also been affected by sanctions before being taken off the list two years ago,” Rundogo told the Mayor Wadyajena chaired committee.