Munyaradzi Musiiwa Midlands Correspondent
THE country’s sole manufacturer of ammonium nitrate (AN), Sable Chemical Industries, has released 30 000 tonnes of AN to the market to ease fertiliser shortages.
This comes after Government conceded it has failed to distribute farming inputs to farmers under the Presidential Input Support Scheme and Command Agriculture.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development attributed the delay in the distribution and procurement of farming inputs to foreign currency shortages.
Government has so far distributed inputs to less than 50 percent of the targeted beneficiaries.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) recently released foreign currency to Sable to enable the Kwekwe-based company to import ammonia gas a key component in the production of AN.
Sable Chemicals chief executive officer, Mr Bothwell Nyajeka, said the company had produced 30 000 tonnes of AN for the 2017/18 summer cropping season.
He said the company had received a reasonable amount of foreign currency from RBZ, which has enabled a flawless and uninterrupted production.
“Production at Sable Chemical Industries has been going on we received foreign currency from Government and we have since produced 30 000 tonnes of AN for this summer cropping season. We are continuing with production and we hope to produce more before the end of the season,” he said.
Sable is targeting to produce about 120 000 tonnes of fertiliser this year to bolster fertiliser stocks for the summer cropping season.
The company switched off its electrolysis plant and was importing ammonia from South Africa that would be fed into the AN manufacturing plant which has the energy consumption capacity of 10 megawatts (MW) compared to 115 MW consumed by the electrolysis plant.
RBZ Deputy Director International Banking and Portfolio Management, Mr Ernest Matiza said Government was prioritising key production sectors in the allocation of foreign currency.
“As for the agricultural sector we are making frantic efforts to ensure that there is adequate foreign currency for the importation of inputs and to support the fertiliser manufacturing industry.
“We have allocated foreign currency towards the importation of fertiliser and support of manufacturing industry such as sable Chemical Industries who are the sole producers of Ammonium Nitrate (AN).
“They need foreign currency to import ammonia gas a key component in the manufacturing of AN fertiliser,” he said.