Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) Copperbelt East Regional Chairman Juliano Chanda Lamya says cartels in the fertiliser business are making the cost of the commodity exorbitant.

A 50 KG bag of urea fertiliser is currently fetching around K900 with D Compound going at around K750.

Agro-business experts have predicted that fertiliser prices will continue fluctuating owing to many factors that include the frequent revision of fuel prices.

In an interview, Mr. Lamya said too many middle men in the fertiliser business have resulted in the product becoming unaffordable to many small scale farmers.

Mr. Lamya said expensive fertiliser is negatively affecting crop production in the country.

“First, we have to ask ourselves what is shooting up the prices of fertiliser. What we have investigated and through our experience, there are a lot of cartels that are involved in the fertiliser business. Due to cartels, fertiliser might be imported at a cheaper price but if there are too many hands involved you expect everyone to have a share or cut in the business that is why the price goes up,” he said.

Mr. Lamya said farmers are expecting the New Dawn Government to facilitate the reduction of fertiliser prices.

“If Government allows those who are involved in fertiliser business to order directly from them, expect the price to be lower. For example, the President has assured us that they expect the fertiliser prices to drop because they are bringing companies to manufacture fertiliser in Zambia. Then expect prices to be lower because it will be locally produced,” he said.

Mr. Chanda further observed that the closure of Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) in Kafue has compounded the prices of fertiliser.

“If our Kafue Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia was functioning the prices of fertiliser in Zambia would have been low. The closure of Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia has definitely negatively affected the high cost of fertiliser. The closure of Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia has allowed everyone to get involved in the fertiliser business and sale at any price they want to. But Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia is a government controlled company that can ensure that there is nothing more than what people expected. If Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia remains closed, expect the price of fertilizer to be high,” Mr. Lamya said.

During campaigns for the 2021 General Elections, President Hakainde Hichilema when in opposition last July promised to lower the price of a 50kg bag of fertiliser, which according to him was costing farmers between K700 and K800.

In a message to his supporters, Mr. Hichilema, as United Party for National Development (UPND) leader said that when his party formed government in August, it will lower the price for the 50 kg bag of fertilizer to K250.

Taunting his party’s vision for Zambia, Mr. Hichilema said that the lowering of the fertiliser to K250 for a 50KG bag will lead to more production and cheaper foods, adding that it is the way economics works.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lamya has bemoaned the impact of fuel prices increment on the agriculture sector.

The Energy Regulation Board (ERB) has adjusted upwards the pump prices of petroleum products by K4.54/litre for Petrol, K4.68/litre for Diesel and K3.93/litre for Kerosene.

“The fuel itself is the driver of everything. Fuel drives everything. Moving an item from one point to another point requires fuel. If fuel goes up expect everything to go up. Fertiliser comes in transport mode like trucks so immediately the prices go up expect also fertilizer prices to go up. This affects agriculture programmes very much. This affects our agriculture activities. Every tractor uses fuel as you know, transportation is fuel. If the Government can come up with a deliberate policy of ensuring that especially those who are in Agriculture benefits through an incentive. Not a subsidy as such but a policy that will make fuel cheaper for Agriculture programmes,” Mr. Lamya said.


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