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March 28, 2011

Zambia continues inputs subsidy scheme

The Zambian governent says 350 jobs will be created when a US$28 million fertiliser plant is constructed in Kapiri Mposhi by a Russian investor this year.

Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives Eustarkio Kazonga has also said that Government will commence evaluation of the crop harvest for last season.

Kazonga said that a Russian investor has expressed interest in partnering with the local company in setting up the fertiliser plant in Kapiri Mposhi.

“Apart from Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ), a new plant will be constructed in Kapiri Mposhi which will result in job creation for the local people,” he said.

Kazonga said there is high demand for fertiliser in the country resulting from increased farming activities.

He said Government is reviewing the implementation of the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) for this year.

Last year Government distributed 90,000 tonnes of urea and 60,000 tonnes of compound D fertilisers.

Government has since contracted NCZ to produce 30,000 tonnes of compound D fertiliser for the coming season.

”Both products were supposed to be equal, but there was more urea distributed than compound D last year,” he said.

He said the total fertilizer to be distributed for 2011/12 will be 180,000 tonnes.

Dr Kazonga said Government will continue to implement FISP to invigorate agriculture in the country.

He said this is why Government is implementing the farm blocks strategic plan in the nine provinces.

Nansanga farm block in Serenje is a pilot project where 357 plots have been advertised for local and international investors.

Dr Kazonga has also set aside K500 million for Luena farm block in Luapula Province. The money is for surveying of the farm block.

He said all the nine farm blocks identified so far will be operational in line with Government’s agriculture diversification plan.

Dr Kazonga also said that officers from his ministry are about to start a crop harvest review to check on whether Zambia has again recorded a bumper harvest.

“Our officers in the field are about to commence the crop harvest evaluation on last season’s agriculture activities,” he said.

Meanwhile the National Union of Commercial and Industrial Workers (NUIW) has commended government for awarding a contract to NCZ to produce 30,000 tonnes of fertiliser for the 2011/2012 farming season.

NUCIW general secretary Seth Paradza said in an interview that the contract will help NCZ contribute effectively to economic development and ease the company’s financial challenges.

Mr Paradza said the union is happy with Government for responding to the workers’ desire that another contract be given to the company. He said that the NCZ has the capacity to produce 50,000 to 60,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser.

He urged government to continue awarding NCZ contracts because the company has the capacity to produce the required quantities of fertiliser within set deadlines.

Mr Paradza said that it is also important that Zambia produces its own fertiliser instead of relying on imported products.

“Government should continue awarding contracts to NCZ to locally manufacture fertiliser because it will be cheaper and more affordable to farmers than the imported fertiliser,” he said.

He also called on Government to partner with NCZ in the Farmer Input Support Programme.

Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, has annually awarded contracts to NCZ to produce fertiliser.

This has also cheered the Zambia National Farmers Union whose president Jervis Zimba said recently that the decision is an indication that government is interested to revamping the NCZ.

Lusaka Times

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