Michael Magoronga Midlands Correspondent
THE country’s sole ammonium nitrate (AN) fertiliser producer, Sable Chemicals, plans to diversify into dairy farming as part of efforts to expand business to other divisions of the agriculture sector.
The Kwekwe-based company also recently began production of agro-chemicals, pesticides and insecticides.
Through its Sable Farm, the company is currently training farmers drawn from the mining town and its surroundings on the Intwasa/Pfumvudza farming programme, a key intervention by Government and its partners towards enhancing food security.
The training is being done under a partnership between Sable Chemicals and the Government and has so far benefitted 30 farmers. It is expected to spread to other parts of the province.
Speaking during a tour of the company by Industry and Commerce Minister, Dr Sekai Nzenza, last Thursday, Sable Chemicals board chair, Dr Shingi Mutasa, said they were seriously considering moving into the dairy industry.
“For so long we looked at Sable for production of fertiliser, but we have come to realise that it is going to become the industrial agro-processing hub of not only the province but the nation at large.
“Over the next five years, you are going to see projects that will make us one of the biggest dairy producers in the region,” said Dr Mutasa.
He said Sable Chemicals was looking at the creation of other agro-processing products that can utilise the land that sits around the Sable Chemicals plant.
On fertiliser production, Dr Mutasa said he was grateful to the Government for support, which has seen a marked improvement in production.
“Sable Chemicals has a plant that can produce 240 000 tons of AN. If we were working well as an economy, today we would not be importing any nitrogen into our country,” he said.
“But what excites me is the new dispensation has been pushing for local production and that is exactly what we are pushing for as well.”
Dr Mutasa said the country requires more than what Sable can produce hence the two-year US$25 million expansion programme by the company. He said efforts by the Government will ultimately see the country being an early exporter of fertiliser. In her remarks Minister Nzenza said it was important for the Government to partner with private players in its quest to reduce imports.
“It is key that the Government partners with companies and other private players as we look at import substitution. As a nation, we over-relied on importing and totally forgot to produce. So, what we want to do is to increase production and also consumption of local products,” she said.
Dr Nzenza said the Government was committed to supporting Sable Chemicals to drive import the substitution strategy in the fertiliser sector.