The Sunday News
Munyaradzi Musiiwa, Sunday News Reporter
FERTILISER producers and distributors have released 300 000 tonnes of Ammonium Nitrate (AN) fertilizer into the market for the ongoing summer cropping season and has assured the nation of adequate top-dressing fertilizer as the country continues to receive above average rains.
Farmers in the country have started complaining of water logging following the incessant rains that caused floods which left most crops in need of top dressing fertiliser while some farmers were forced to replant after their crops were washed away by the rains.
The Meteorological Department Services has warned of more heavy rains this season that may lead to floods particularly in low lying areas. The country was, in the past few weeks, hit by AN fertilizer shortage with many agriculture inputs shops out of stock for the top dressing.
Ammonium Nitrate is an efficient and immediate source of plant nutrition. Many farmers prefer an immediately available nitrate source for plant nutrition and choose ammonium nitrate as their fertilizer. It is popular for pasture and broad acre crops since almost no ammonia volatilisation losses occur, compared to urea-based fertilizers.
Fertiliser producers and distributors spokesperson Mr James Chigwende said the country’s sole producer of AN, Sable Chemical Industries had managed to produce about 100 000 tonnes of fertilizer while other distributors were importing the 200 000 tonnes deficit.
Mr Chigwende said AN fertilizer was readily available on the market and farmers should not panic. He said that the fertilizer was not available in other areas due to logistical issues.
“We have adequate AN fertilizer on the market. As a country we have enough fertilizer at the moment which can be purchased by farmers from any of our distributors. The majority of fertilizer was consumed by Agro-yield and they have been buying fertilizer. Whatever was procured was received. We have a collateral management of fertilizer production and distribution. The fertilizer is there and is being sold in foreign currency at the main distributors. Sable Chemical Industries produced between 90 000 to 100 000 tonnes of AN and the 200 000 shortfall is covered by imports,” he said.
Mr Chigwende said the country will not be importing fertilizer this year and would work on enhancing production at local producers such as Sable Chemicals.
The country has so far put close to 1.5 million hectares under maize production countrywide while some farmers planted late.
The Government will this month conduct a crop assessment on the state of crops throughout the country. The Government has emphasized on optimal land utilization and production this season as it moves to reduce food imports this year.
The Government will next month start the process of repossessing under-utilized land and chucking out indolent farmers who benefitted from the land reform programme while a statutory instrument has been gazetted bestowing Land, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Ministry with the authority to repossess and redistribute irrigation schemes.
Addressing farmers in Insukhamini, Land, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Anxious Masuka said a statutory instrument has been put in place to give Government powers to remove non-productive farmers from irrigation schemes and redistributing it to prospective farmers.
Dr Masuka said the SI which came into effect on Wednesday will see Government assessing land utilization in irrigation schemes to ensure optimal production and will repossess and redistribute idle irrigation land.