GOVERNMENT has warned fertiliser companies who benefited from the $56 million credit facility opened by Government through African-Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank) to support imports of fertiliser for the 2017/18 cropping season against unscrupulously increasing prices of the commodity. Fertiliser prices on the market have jumped to $41 from $32 per 50kg bag of Compound D, and to $39 from $33 for 50kg of Ammonium Nitrate.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Deputy Minister Cde Davis Marapira said fertiliser companies should charge reasonable and affordable prices to enable farmers to buy inputs at prices that would make their operations economically viable.
Cde Marapira said the fertiliser companies were getting Government support including foreign exchange allocations, tax rebates and credit facilities to enable smooth procurement of farming inputs ahead of the summer cropping season.
“Fertiliser companies are getting a lot of support from Government that include foreign exchange allocations, tax rebates and credit facilities. RBZ has allocated foreign currency to fertiliser producers so that they import raw materials and fertiliser on time ahead of the summer cropping season. We therefore warn the fertiliser companies against inflating prices so that the commodity is affordable to farmers,” he said.
The country’s fertiliser producing firms — Windmill, Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company, Omnia and Sables Chemicals — have already drawn down $15 million to enable them to import fertiliser or raw materials used in manufacturing the product to avert potential shortages.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is working on a new $150 million letters of credit facility to support fertiliser, fuel and crude oil importation. From the $150 million, $56 million will go towards fertiliser importation ahead of the 2017/18 summer cropping season.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe deputy director International Banking and Portfolio Management, Mr Ernest Matiza said Government had allocated the agricultural sector foreign currency because it is one of the country’s key production sectors. Mr Matiza said RBZ was also prioritising mining, health, agriculture and other key production sectors that generate 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,” he said.