Government has announced plans to set up a $750 million fertiliser plant at Mkwasine in Chiredzi, in a development that is expected to boost the agricultural sector and revive the economy.
The plant will be set up by Government through the Science and Technology Division in the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development at Mkwasine coal fields.
Under the project, about 520 000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate will be produced at the plant annually through conversion of coal into fertiliser.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira last weekend said funding for the project had been secured.
Speaking during a Zimbabwe Defence Forces Fundraising dinner at a Masvingo hotel, Prof Murwira said the proposed plant was part of President Mnangagwa’s administration to use heritage-based science to develop the country’s economy.
“We are going to put up a fertiliser plant in Chiredzi in the Mkwasine area,” he said.
“The plant will be set up at the coalfields at Mkwasine where we are going to convert coal into ammonium nitrate.
“We are now at a stage where we are looking for companies to construct the plant. We secured $750 million in our Science and Technology division, which is basically our move towards heritage-based science. The coal we have is our heritage.”
Prof Murwira said surplus fertiliser produced at the planned Mkwasine plant will be exported.
“Our country uses about 320 000 tonnes of fertiliser per annum and the Mkwasine plant will produce 520 000 tonnes, meaning that we will have more than 200 000 tonnes of fertiliser for export,” he said.
Prof Murwira said President Mnangagwa was armed with several strategies to revive Zimbabwe’s economy and urged the nation to be patient.
“I have always said President Mnangagwa has a plan for the economic revival of this country,” he said.
“Just wait and see, there will be unrivalled economic prosperity in this country.”
Turning to the broader agricultural sector, Prof Murwira revealed plans were afoot to boost the country’s livestock herd through a number of interventions.
Government, he said, was targeting to produce six million straws for artificial insemination to improve the country’s beef herd.
“We are having a bio-technology project of artificial insemination, where we are harvesting semen from bulls at Chinhoyi University of Technology,” he said.
Prof Murwira said Government was also working with a Chinese firm to increase potato production through the use of tissue culture.
“One of the programmes that we are doing with bio-technology, which we are working on with a Chinese company and our National Bio-Technology Authority is to up production of potatoes from 15 tonnes per hectare to between 70 to 120 tonnes per hectare using tissue culture,” said Prof Murwira.
It is the planned manufacture of fertiliser from coal in Chiredzi that is expected to add momentum to the drive to make Zimbabwe a middle income economy in line with President Mnangagwa’s vision.