Business

Sable Chemicals battles to meet fertiliser demand

Patrick Chitumba

Bulawayo Bureau 

THE country’s sole Ammonium Nitrate (AN) fertiliser producer, Sable Chemicals, says it is battling to meet rising demand for fertiliser as more farmers seek the product to boost their yields.

With heavy rains pounding the country since January, there has been a high demand for top dressing to save mainly maize crop from leaching.

The Kwekwe-based company signed an MoU with the Government to supply 60 000 tonnes of AN fertiliser for the 2020-2021 summer cropping period.

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Fertiliser is in high demand this year with good rains pushing Zimbabwe towards a record harvest as more fields need the nitrogen top dressing.

Sable Chemicals chief executive officer, Mr Bothwell Nyajeka, said the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted negatively on the production of fertiliser, especially on the supply of key raw materials. 

“As Sable Chemicals, we have been failing to meet demand for AN fertiliser mainly due to Covid-19 lockdown, which saw delays in the supply of raw materials used in the production of the fertiliser,” he said.

However, the company has attributed failure to supply AN fertiliser to the market to Covid-19-induced lockdown and inadequate foreign currency.

Mr Nyajeka said in a bid to meet the high demand, the company was working on importing some AN fertiliser to meet the local production. He said production was also being hampered by the shortage of foreign currency to import major raw materials.

“Despite the negative impact of Covid-19 and foreign currency shortages, Sable Chemicals is working with the Government and other industry players to meet demand for fertilisers and where local production is short, measures are taken to meet local production with imports,” said Mr Nyajeka.

He said the company has been making private partnerships and other arrangements with local wholesalers in bid to satisfy the market.

“From time to time, Sable Chemicals enters into arrangements with its clients of AN fertiliser, these arrangements are, however, guided by confidentiality clauses,” he said.

According the agreement that Sable Chemicals entered into with the Government, the fertiliser producer is expected to improve its fertiliser tonnage supplies every year. 

The Government is mandated with providing part of the company’s foreign currency needs for it to import enough ammonium nitrate gas, the major raw materials in the production of fertiliser.

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Demand for fertiliser this time of the season is worsened by so some vast swathes of golf fields doted around the country that also need huge tonnes of AN fertiliser for them to remain green.

In a good season, the country needs about 600 000 tonnes of fertilisers , both compounds and AN.

HERALD