By Livingstone Marufu
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has bailed out a number of fertiliser and chemicals producing companies to the tune of $20 million as the country moves to avert potentially devastating shortages in the current agricultural season.
The funding comes at a time when most crops across the country are in need of both Compound D and Ammonium Nitrate fertilisers.
Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Davis Marapira told The Herald Business that the Central Bank has given assurance that fertiliser companies will produce enough stock for the 2017/18 summer cropping season.
“We acknowledge the challenges that we are facing as a country in terms of foreign currency shortages and the fertiliser area is not spared. We are so happy that the RBZ is doing its level best to ensure that the country has enough fertiliser requirements.
“An amount close to $20 million has been disbursed to avert potential fertiliser and chemicals shortages. The apex bank is making frantic efforts to ensure that close to 200 000 tonnes of both AN and compound fertilisers are imported by January,” said Deputy Minister Marapira.
On the other hand, fertiliser companies have started drawing funds from the $56 million African-Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank) facility, which was designed to support imports of fertiliser for the 2017 /2018 cropping season.
Windmill, Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company, Omnia and Sable Chemicals — have already drawn down $15 million to enable them to import fertiliser or raw materials used in the manufacture of the critical farming input.
The move to prioritise capacitating fertiliser firms follows the success of the specialised import substitution programme, Command Agriculture, which was started in the last summer cropping season.
The country needs a total 500 000 tonnes of compound D and ammonium nitrate if it is to have a successful farming season but local companies have 120 000 tonnes of fertiliser in stock.
Further to these facilities, the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) has availed a $9,5 million loan facility to a local commercial bank aimed at enabling the sourcing of fertiliser raw materials and stocks from foreign suppliers. The Herald