Zimbabwe’s largest manufacturer and supplier of fertilisers, ZFC Limited has increased its production capacity to 100 percent from 40 percent recorded at the beginning of the year as it steps up efforts to satisfy local demand. In a statement to The Herald Business last week ZFC said it has ramped up the production of compounds and blends ahead of the start of the 2015 /2016 planting season.
The fertiliser manufacturer said it has successfully imported Ammonium Nitrate to supplement local production with all ZFC outlets and retail chains across the country now fully stocked with all types of fertilizers and agro chemicals. “ZFC is currently operating at full capacity in the production of compounds and blends to ensure inputs are available for the season.
“However, capacity was just below 40 percent at the beginning of the year in line with demand levels. “All types of fertilisers including high analysis fertilisers are being produced for all the different types of crops grown in the country,” said the company. “A lot of money was spent to ensure that we do not run out and there is sufficient AN for use in both production and for sale as top dressing fertilisers. ZFC is ready for the season.”
ZFC said to necessitate the timely availability of inputs it is engaging various financial institutions including Agribank to get finance to fund operations. The company plans to invest $8 million in the next five years towards refurbishments and upgrading of plant equipment in order to further increase capacity to meet local fertiliser demand.
ZFC experienced a low uptake of its products during the 2014 /2015 season due to lack of purchasing power of farmers as well as the existence of obsolete plant equipment.
In 2014 the market demand for fertiliser was 300 000 tonnes but ZFC only managed to provide for 100 000 tonnes. The company’s plant equipment needs an overhaul and the fact that the company is on a sanctions has made it more difficult to secure lines of credit from international financial institutions.
ZFC’s capacity for last year was about 31 percent against that of its South African competitors of 91 percent. During a tour of the company’s operations this year ZFC managing director Dr Richard Dafana said fertiliser business is high volume thin margin business so there is need for investment in new equipment to increase volumes depending on the consistence of the market.
He said Zimbabwe has enough capacity to satisfy local demand and they have approached Government to advocate for a 25 percent tariff on imported fertilizers to create a level playing field. According to reports at least 12 companies have been importing duty free fertiliser for resale and the imported brands include Liquid Lime, Nitrex and Mushe Maize.