FERTILISER manufacturer ZFC Limited has experienced a low uptake of its products during the 2014/2015 season due to lack of purchasing power from farmers, the company has said.
A number of farmers are struggling to buy inputs for the 2014/15 summer cropping season after the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) failed to pay for last season’s deliveries while a price hike in inputs has also made life difficult for them.
Government’s outstanding obligation to farmers for grain deliveries now stands at $52,4 million and as of December 2014, grain deliveries by farmers to the GMB under the 2014/2015 grain marketing season amounted to 255 519 tonnes, valued at $101,8 million.
ZFC managing director Richard Dafana told NewsDay that for the 2015 season, the uptake of fertiliser will depend on the resolution of the liquidity issues prevailing in the market and favourable climatic conditions.
“The 2014/15 season started late as the first rains were delayed and some farmers are still planting. However, most farmers are greatly affected by lack of purchasing power as indicated in the low uptake of fertilisers,” he said.
“ZFC had prepared well for the season by having both fertilisers and agro chemicals well-stocked across the country in depots, stockists and retail chains situated in all major farming areas.”
Dafana said ZFC considered the local industry its primary market, adding that the regional export market was very key as it made use of excess and idle capacity that the country desperately needed especially during the off season to address employment and balance of payment challenges.
“The local manufacturing companies have sufficient production capacity to meet national requirement for basal fertilisers. As ZFC, our capacity utilisation for the year 2014 was about 30%. Thus we have the capacity to more than double our production resulting in improved economies of scale and reduced costs that we can pass on to our farmers in lower prices.
“It is key for the country to discourage importation of the same to encourage increase in capacity utilisation in local manufacturing,” he said.
He, however, said ZFC would continue to play its role in the realisation of national set targets and objectives.
“As ZFC we are, however, confident that we will be able to supply all the required fertilisers and at prices affordable to the farmers,” Dafana said.
The local fertiliser industry has also been affected by the availability of duty-free fertiliser imports mostly from South Africa and Zambia which have flooded the market.
It has been reported that at least 12 companies have been importing duty-free fertiliser for resale and the imported brands include Liquid Lime, Nitrex and Mushe Maize.