Farmers hit by AN fertiliser shortage

File pic: Lands and Agriculture minister Anxious Masuka

FARMERS in the country have raised concern over shortages of top-dressing fertiliser, a key input for maize production.

Farmers told NewsDay that if the situation is not urgently addressed, the shortages could lead to poor harvests this year.

But Lands and Agriculture minister Anxious Masuka said government was expecting more deliveries of ammonium nitrate (AN) fertiliser this week.

 “Government is expecting 80 000 metric tonnes of ammonium nitrate. We have so far received 43 000 metric tonnes and we are hurrying the importation of AN. We are also activating the local supply, and so I expect that there will be an accelerated delivery of AN here in four or five days of the additional AN that is required,” Masuka said.

Farmers told NewsDay that their maize plants were now turning yellow due to shortages of nitrogen.

“We risk experiencing acute food shortages due to inadequate fertilisers. Government should urgently import fertilisers to avert the disaster. If no measures are put in place, farmers risk producing poor yields,” Bernand Muvhairi, a farmer from Bulilima said.

Another farmer, Allan Saungweme from Chirumanzu said: “The crops are at wilting stage. We are appealing to government to provide us with AN fertiliser as soon as possible.  We only received 43% of AN, of which it’s not enough.”

Zimbabwe Farmer’s Union (ZFU) representative Dennis Chisevure urged farmers to use alternative fertilisers to avert the disaster.

“There has been a shortage of AN fertiliser in the market, and this is mainly due to the supply and geopolitical issues happening in Eastern Europe. The prices are also out of reach because there is more demand. Farmers are failing to access fertiliser, but alternatively we are urging them to use urea fertiliser to avoid the disaster,” he said.

“Farmers must also use organic fertilisers. With the current crisis, farmers must take this opportunity to use other alternatives which helps to recondition the soil and improve its fertility. Every season we have challenges with AN fertiliser and there is demand during this time. So farmers should learn to use other alternatives rather than wait for the key fertilisers," Chisevure said.

The country currently imports its fertiliser requirements, and local producers of AN fertilisers, Sable Chemicals, is failing to meet the national demand due to production constraints.

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