SABLE Chemicals Industries (Sable), Zimbabwe’s only manufacturer of ammonium nitrate (AN), has produced just about half of its target output in the first eight months of the year, an official has said.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Allen Manhanga, Sable’s production executive, told delegates attending the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries annual congress last week that the company had only managed to produce 34 000 tonnes of top-dressing fertiliser against a target of 65 000, a variance of 52%, weighed down by a shortage of foreign currency.
“We have capacity to move about 3 000 and 4 000 tonnes of ammonia (gas) every month from South Africa. Our performance in 2018 to date, we have nearly 34 000 tonnes as Sable, this is against per budget of 65 000 tonnes, that’s 52% off target. Now what are the limitations? Access to foreign currency is the major issue,” Manhanga said.
The national demand of AN fertiliser is around 150 000 tonnes per year.
The Kwekwe-based company needs an average of about $2 million per month to import ammonia gas from South Africa in order to produce at optimal, which would translate to an average of $24 million per year.
“So it is important that we have access to $2 million every month on a regular basis throughout the year so that we don’t run out of fertiliser,” Manhanga said.
He revealed that in the year to date, Sable had only received $3 million out of the $90 million allocated to the fertiliser industry.
“So it means that as a primary producer, we only got $3 million, but other players who include the importers have got $90 million. In 2017, the total that we got as Sable was $2 million against the whopping $130 million that was availed to the industry,” he said.
“The reason is because often times we leave it until late and then towards the end of the year we find we don’t have enough fertiliser. The money is then availed to importers to close that gap.”
He urged government to support local producers since they contribute to employment creation.
“The time is fast running, we need that money like yesterday. So what’s sitting between us and that goal is access to foreign currency. We need foreign currency so that we are able to discharge our responsibility to the nation.”