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Fuel Shortages Hamper Distribution of Fertilizer to Zimbabwean Farmers

Agriculture Minister Joseph Made this week assured farmers that fertilizer needed for their upcoming maize planting season could be obtained at depots of the state Grain Marketing Board across the country. But a number of GMB depots in Mashonaland East, Masvingo and Manicaland said Friday that they had no fertilizer in stock.

A GMB official responsible for distribution said fertilizer has not yet been distributed to all depots because of logistical problems, in particular a shortage of fuel. But she said the state grain monopoly is in the process of supplying all the country's depots.

Zimbabwe recently received 47,000 tonnes of fertilizer from South Africa, funded by a US$45 million revolving fertilizer and grain import facility that the central bank created in June under a financing arrangement with Nedbank of South Africa.

Under the fertilizer distribution program, farmers must show a producer’s card and can only buy from a depot in their area. Ammonium nitrate fertilizer (top dressing) and Compound D (artificial manure) are priced at about half the market rate.

Agronomist and former Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union president Thomas Nherera told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that if farmers can get fertiliser in the next two weeks they can still plant maize crops on time.

Farmers in the Matabeleland South village of Nswazi told reporter Martin Ngwenya that the high cost of agricultural inputs and a shortage of draught power are hindering local efforts to meet planting deadlines.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...