ZIMBABWE – State owned Zimbabwe Phosphate Industries (ZimPhos) has commissioned a new fertiliser blending plant with capacity of producing 200 000 tonnes of basal fertilizers per annum, to meet 50 percent of the current national demand.

ZimPhos is wholly owned by the government through Chemplex Corporation Limited which is also owned 100% by Industrial Development Corporation of Zimbabwe.

The development is part of government’s Five-Year Fertilizer Import Substitution Roadmap which is expected to see the country save US$ 250 million per year which was being spent on the importation of the commodity.

“This new blending plant is testimony that investors are responding to the clarion call for accelerated innovation, research and development riding on the science, technology and innovation ecosystem established under the Second Republic.

“It will go a long way towards supporting our economy with expected multiplier effects in our agriculture value chain,” said Emmerson Mnangagwa during the launch.

Owing to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, there has been a shortage of fertilisers and the government has been trying to increase local production to cover the gap.

“The investment by Zimbabwe Phosphate Industries comes at an opportune time as we prepare for the 2022/23 summer cropping season.

“Their entry into the production of fertiliser blends will result in increased competition, improved product quality and reduction in the unit cost of fertiliser to the farmer,” he added.

The President said the production of fertilisers alone was not a panacea for improved production and productivity in the agricultural sector, but called for improvement in the supply chain efficiency, investment in transportation and market infrastructure, as well as research and extension services, managing price and production risk, facilitating rural finance and strengthening legal and regulatory institutions.

Zimphos is currently the country’s sole producer of phosphate fertilisers, aluminium sulphate for municipal water treatment, sulphuric acid and other industrial chemicals.

Chemplex Acting Chief Executive Mr James Chigwende said a total investment of US$1.1 million had been made for the blending plant while another US$2.2 million had been channelled towards a granulation plant which would be installed by October.

“We will also be investing in another granulation plant for US$4.5 million and a phosphate conversion plant for US$3 million.

“Zimbabwe has huge deposits of phosphates and we decided that we need to beneficiate them into basal fertilisers and stop importing.

“The fertiliser blending plant was designed to take in the abundant supply of phosphate from Dorowa Mine but the plant there needs refurbishment. So we will need to sink about US$16 million into Dorowa to get the phosphate,” he said.

Once the second granulation plant and the conversion plant are on board, phosphates at Dorowa will be able to meet all the blending capacity in Zimbabwe.

Mr Chigwende said Chemplex was an investor in Sable Chemicals and they were currently refurbishing the plant there to produce 240 000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate.

Once that has happened, he said, Zimphos would be able to double production to 430 000 tonnes by next year, enough to meet national demand of 400 000 tonnes of basal fertiliser.

“This fertiliser blender is versatile because it produces any type of basal fertiliser which can be tailor made to a customer, to the soil nutrients and the nutrients required by a specific region or farm,” Mr Chigwende added.

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