WATCH: Cement, fertiliser prices drop Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister Roy Bhila officiates at the ministry’s strategic planning workshop on behalf of Minister Sithembiso Nyoni in Bulawayo yesterday

Sikhulekelani Moyo, [email protected]

THE importation of fertiliser and cement has started to bear fruit as prices of the commodities have started to drop, Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister Roy Bhila has said.

This comes following the approval by Cabinet a few weeks ago that the importation of cement by individuals and companies with free funds has been opened to curb the artificial cement shortages that saw prices more than doubling and pushed up construction costs.

Also, in the same vein, the Government authorised farmers to directly import fertiliser from international suppliers to address supply shortages.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, 2023/24 summer crop preparedness indicates a total demand of fertiliser 1 422 500 tonnes, targeting 3 million households for strategic crops.

The Ministry said that there will be a deficit of 990 317 tonnes of fertiliser for the current season but importation of the product will help to address the shortage.

It is in that respect that the ministry made administrative arrangements with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) to facilitate the importation of fertiliser and cement of up to five tonnes by companies and individuals respectively.

In an interview during the ministry’s strategic planning workshop in Bulawayo yesterday, Deputy Minister Bhila said the importation has commenced and the commodities are now available in the market.

“As I speak now, if you go to the border posts, you will find trucks with cement and fertiliser coming in, we are happy that the Ministry intervened at the right time.

“If you go around different districts and provinces, you will find that cement is now available and the prices have gone down and we are happy that President Mnangagwa has given us a very good policy direction which we followed as a ministry,” said the Deputy Minister.

President Mnangagwa

“Small bottlenecks which were experienced by importers have been cleared, so in terms of fertiliser, in two weeks’ time or a month we are going to have adequate fertiliser for the season and we are going to have adequate cement. It is through the interventions of the Ministry.”

Meanwhile, during a Post-Cabinet Press briefing on Tuesday, the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Dr Jenfan Muswere said the Government has put in place measures to mitigate fertiliser shortages with plans in place as well to deal with the cement situation.

“Cabinet advises that the local fertiliser industry has an installed annual production capacity of more than 2 million MT of compound and blends. The industry is operating at 30 percent and the supply gap is being covered by imports.”

“Cabinet reports that in order to alleviate the current shortage of fertiliser, the country will import through a variety of potential schemes, the Dorowa Shawa Hills Project; and Wonderful Group of Zambia Joint Venture with Rusununguko/Nkululeko Holdings,” said Dr Muswere.

Dr Jenfan Muswere

“The joint venture is expected to bring in 50 000 metric tonnes of basal fertiliser and     50 000 metric tonnes of ammonia nitrate.”

He also said there is a coal-to-fertiliser project which is being pursued by Verify Engineering and Sable Chemicals (Pvt) Ltd exploring the option of local ammonia gas production.

The company is also exploring the production of ammonia gas using natural gas sourced from Muzarabani.

“The processes will utilise the locally available coal to develop ammonia-based fertilisers, thereby fulfilling fertiliser requirements. Furthermore, Sable Chemicals also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Invictus Energy which will enable the company to produce 240 000 tonnes of AN fertiliser and 360 000 tonnes of urea,” he said.

“Sable is also pursuing the option of local ammonia gas production which includes the production of green ammonia using solar as the primary source of power. Additionally, other innovative measures which will be used to mitigate both the increased volumes and funding requirements for fertiliser will be to use super grades of fertiliser such as Super D instead of Compound D or Urea in place of Ammonium Nitrate. A comprehensive plan of production is underway.”

Dr Muswere also said as at November 15, 2023, 665 applications for cement import had been approved amounting to 149 000 metric tonnes to ease cement shortages and clear backlogs that had been created on the market.

“Approved applications are for manufacturers of cement, wholesalers, and retailers as well as companies in the construction industry. Furthermore, industry players have been allowed up to December 31, 2023 to import cement using their own free funds.

“The nation is further informed that there is also an administrative arrangement with Zimra to allow the importation of cement amounting to a maximum of 5MT (100 bags of 50kgs cement) for personal use. The supply gap of cement is expected to decline starting December 2023,” he said.

“The Government continues to review the current cement supply situation and will take decisive action against errant industry players. Government would also like to assure the public that it has given an ultimatum to players to review their supply and pricing models.” — @SikhulekelaniM1

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