Fertilizer misinformation by Minister of Agriculture

Bob Schinga

Bob Schinga

Dear Editor,

As a concerned citizen of Zambia I would like to bring to the attention of the public the findings that I have come across when cross referencing a ministerial statement made by the Honourable Minister of Agriculture Mr Robert Sichinga on the 7th of November 2013.

My concern, as a concerned citizen of Zambia is to bring to light the overspending done by the ministry as well as bring to light the misinformation being given to the people of Zambia

Take note of the following points:

NPK fertiliser

With the commendable work done by NCZ it must be brought to the attention of the general public that NCZ has completed the production of the 70,726mt. At a total cost of K374.3 million. This translates to K5292.25 per ton which equates to k265 per bag of fertiliser from Kafue. In dollar terms it equates to $980.04 per ton or $49.02 per bag.

With the aforementioned points, my survey for the fertiliser markets in Lusaka indicated that the average price of NPK fertiliser per bag, ranges from K198 to K205 from each supplier.

In comparison to what the fertiliser at NCZ is being produced at, it equates toa production subsidy of no less than K84,871,200 for the production of NPK at NCZ. In comparison to what inputs are being retailed for in Lusaka, this translates to over spending of $15,716,888,88 by the ministry of Agriculture.

Transport costs to freight the produced NPK inputs to the districts throughout Zambia are estimated to be an additional $7,072,900. In short, government is subsidising NCZ production at an approximate cost of $22,789,788. (factors such as warehousing, labor to mention but a few have not been taken into consideration)

In the ministerial statement the Honourable Minister further went on to mention in his statement on the 7th of November 2013 that the plant is scheduled to produce an additional 25,599metric tonnes which is meant to supplement inputs under the defunct e-voucher program. The minister is yet to indicate to the general public what the funding is for the additional production of NPK fertiliser at NCZ?

Taking into consideration that we are in the month of November we find it impossible that the plant will be able to meet the production deadline for the inputs. Considering that raw materials are needed to produce the NPK,as public institutions,no public tenders have been put out by GRZ or NCZ to tender for raw materials to produce the additional 25,599mt from NCZ?

We as the general public demand to know who is supplying the raw materials and when the raw materials will be supplied to NCZ?

With it being mid November and despite numerous assurances from the minister that all the farmers outstanding debt for maize supply will be cleared by September 2013 then moved to October 2013, why should farmers continue to wait for proceeds for their supplied grain if the information obtained by the ministry indicates that resources are available but are then being channeled to subsidize an already expensive exercise.

Procurement of the 50,000tons Urea fertiliser

In the ministerial statement made by honorableSichinga of 7 November 2013 he highlighted that by government sourcing fertiliser directly from Saudi Arabia, Govt has saved no less than $500 per metric tone. He also mentioned that savings achieved on the consignment are estimated at US $25 million equivalent to K135 million.

Similar to the analysis of the NPK a survey was done to conduct the pricing of the inputs on the local market. It was discovered that the average pricing of Top dressing fertiliser in Lusaka is at $740 per ton which amounts to $37 per bag or K200 per bag.

Considering that the minister has announced that there’s a saving of $500 per ton by the minsitry of agriculture it would then mean that the average price of fertiliser per bag procured by government will amount to $240 per ton on average which equals to $12 per bag or K65 per bag . (Bear in mind that this is not taking into account the costs that Government has to incur to open a letter of credit to finance the 50,000tons, the logistics involved as well as the inland freight charges to mention but a few of the costs involved).

Can the minister categorically inform the public how government is making a saving if the numbers are not making sense? What is the average landed price for the fertiliser in Lusaka, we are interested to know what the landed costs for the inputs are if the purchased price of the inputs from Saudi Arabia was purchased at a price of $388 per ton FOB from Saudi Arabia?

Furthermore, why should the farmers’ contribution to access inputs double from K50 in previous FISP programs to K100 if there’s a saving on ministry’s part? Whatever happened to more money in peoples’ pockets more especially for the vulnerable of our society.

It would be interesting to inform the public that only 11,000tons of the loaded 14,000tons of top dressing fertiliser has come into Zambia as at mid November 2013.

Indications given by the Honourable minister are that all the top dressing fertilser will be in country by the end of November 2013 from October 2013, indications are that this’s not to be the case considering that the second consignment of the 25,000tons is yet to commence discharges in Daresalaam notwithstanding what measures the ministry has put in place to cater for the top dressing fertiliser under the defunct e voucher program amounting to an additional 25,000tons of urea fertiliser.

With it being mid November and the rains already coming in various parts of the country and with less than 15% of the top dressing being in country our farmers are left to wonder as to what will happen for this years FISP program.

The evidence is clear cut that there is no direction as to where the ministry is heading? With the uncertainties happening at the ministry of Agric one is made to wonder who the real beneficiaries of this years FISP program are?

The ministerial statement can be viewed by clicking here.